So I'm reading in St. John's gospel: Peter, turning around, saw the disciple [John] whom Jesus loved following them . . . So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, "Lord, and what about this man?" Jesus said to him, "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!" (John 21:20-22).
What caught my attention was Jesus' response to Peter, which was essentially, "It's none of your business what happens to John. You follow Me."
That was not the first time I'd recognized the Lord's challenge about following Him instead of worrying about someone else. This time, however, the dialogue stopped me because I recently learned of a woman who left the Church as a result of the moral hypocrisy of some pastors she'd learned about.
But hypocrisy among religious leaders is nothing new. And many times in the past thirty-five years of my own faith journey I also have been tempted to leave the Church because of things I knew about some pastors, priests or teachers. Which is why this passage in John is so important to me. It is as if the Lord Jesus continually asks -- not only of Peter, but also of me:
"So, Richard. People in the Church disappoint you. They disappoint Me, too. And people in the Church have offended you. They also offend Me.
"But what are they to you? Will you follow them?"
"Or will you follow Me?"
To which I hope to always reply, "Lord, where shall I go? You have the words of eternal life."