I've been reading Jeff Lucas' book Faith in the Fog since picking it up at Transform.
It was billed as a book about faith in times of depression and burnout, and looks at the story of Peter and the other disciples in the gap between Jesus crucifixion and resurrection, specifically when they return to Galilee and go fishing. I'm not going to review it now, particularly since some of it is applicable to me and on-going recovery, but having got near the end and considered his painting of Peter as an ordinary bloke being restored and commissioned for the future, something struck me as a major miracle.
No smooth-talking, manipulative, ruthless and smart individual cheated him of his role.
Over the centuries the church has not lacked for this kind of character, and even when redeemed, such people so often seem to end up floating to the top of the pile while the honest, more open types end up moving sideways. Perhaps this is one of the things that attracted me to a fundamentalist/charismatic approach to church, that those who God raised up seemed less into their politics and much more concerned about what God thought of the whole thing.
So to me, it's far more of a miracle that Paul didn't come along and gently slide him out of the way, and later on when it HAS happened (James now heading up the church) he's still a key figure.
And it goes to show, this religion business is complicated. Did I just suggest that James had ousted Peter from heading up the church in Jerusalem? I have no details on this, but a not too sharp reading between the lines makes me wonder if he wasn't the influence that kept the Jerusalem church Jewish and focused on its feet instead of using those feet so that it became the outreach headquarters for the ROTW. Peter, after his vision of the sheet & animals might have had some very different, very disruptive ideas if he couldn't be 'encouraged' to remember how to be a good Jewish boy. Cue Antioch stepping up to the plate.
I don't want to read too much into it, but I find it a major miracle that he didn't end up being the guy who put the chairs out.