In the book of Matthew, Peter followed Jesus at a distance, after the arrest in the garden. Notice, Peter has not abandoned the Lord. He was just distancing himself. Not the courageous Peter that claimed he would stay unto the death. Peter was not denining Christ, he just wasn't confirming his relationship.
Understand that Peter had been in the presense of the Lord for three years. He had seen many of the miricles performed. He saw Jesus still the waters. He saw Him have power over the elements, demons, etc. Peter knew above all others the power of Jesus, but yet here we see him following afar off. Probably, he was afraid of public opinion, afraid of the ridicule of others.
Reminds me of a story I once heard of a young man that wanted to go to Oregon to be a lumberjack. His mother tried to discourage him. She told him that these men were rough and would make fun of him because of him being a christian. The boy really had his heart on becoming a lumberjack. He left one day to fulfill his dream. It was several years later when he returned home to visit his folks, his mother asked how he faired being a christian in such an environment. He responded, "They never found out.". That was where Peter was, he didn't deny, just didn't tell.
He distanced himself.
A few verses later, we see him in a crowd around a campfire. A young lady said that he was one of the followers of Jesus. He denied saying, "no I'm not". Again, another said he was, again he denied "NO I AM NOT". The third time he began to curse saying he was not one of them! That stopped the accusations. If you want to convince people you are not a christian, just start cursing and using foul language. That will do it.
This is a picture of where we are today. Not only are we two thousand years away from the cross, where we have forgotten the significance of the cross, we are afar off spiritually. We get further away by several ways. Three of which are:
1.. We quit praying. When we don't have communication with someone we kind of lose connection.
2. We quit attending church. We no longer have the support of like minded brothers and sisters.
3. We begin to act like the non-followers. Our lives become worldly.
(This is not necessarily the order in which we wander away for the cross)
In short we become like the Israelites in the book of Judges, We forget who God is and what He has done. We begin to do that which is right in our own sight instead of what is right in the sight of God. We have gotten away from the Cross. The further we get spiritually, and distance, the further we get from the truth of the cross.