"Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following...Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him...what is that to thee? follow thou me." (John 21:20-22)
Learn how to look at a person; then learn how to look away. I scribbled down this little piece of advice in a battered notebook I keep for such musings, thinking I might write something along these lines one day.
That day has arrived.
The one sharing this episode in Peter's life is the very man to whom Peter's enquiry refers: John, "the disciple whom Jesus loved." He does not tell us what his own reaction to Peter's concern for his future was; but one can imagine that Jesus' answer to Peter may well have solicited a smile from him. He was used to Peter's need to always be on top of things, not above even rebuking Jesus when he thought He was taking a wrong turn in His ministry (Matt.16:22).
Peter had a bad habit of taking His eyes off the Lord (Matt.14:28-30). Aren't you glad that isn't something you and I don't have a problem with (wink, wink)? On this occasion, in John twenty-one, our Lord had just given Peter assurance that he was going to live into his dotage. But before he died at a ripe old age, he would find himself no longer in charge, as he liked to be. Someone else would be dressing him and taking him where he or she wanted him to go. This is one of those "good news-bad news" scenarios. However he took it, for some reason, it prompted Peter to turn his back of Jesus momentarily and notice John following them, simply minding his own business, content to let Peter and Jesus converse privately.
"What's going to happen to him?" This was Peter's question. "Is he going to live long too?" It doesn't seem to be an especially intrusive or malicious question. But the thing is, what difference did it make to God's will for his own life? That's exactly what Jesus was saying, when He replied, "If he lives till I come back to the earth, what's it to you? Your only worry should be whether or not you're following me." Rather blunt, I know, but it gives us some idea of what God thinks about our so-called "burden" that God's will be accomplished in the lives of others.
I commented in another piece I wrote several years ago that if some of us were asked Cain's question—"Am I my brother's keeper"—our answer would be, "You bet I am!" I went on to describe those us who indulge in this folly as being quick to assume responsibility for the "conduct, choices, and convictions of everyone within our sphere of influence."
This story in the life of Peter says to me that when I begin to zero in on what others in the Body of Christ are doing, whether family, friends, or well-known personalities, it's because, like Peter, I have taken our eyes off the Lord. When Jesus is the focal point of our interest, and His will for our life is our main concern, others' ministries and mistakes are only peripheral images to us.
God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can....and the wisdom to know it's me.