In our current environment of fear, a time unlike any in my memory, Christians need to lead the way in faith. No, not with bravado that appears to dare that old virus to touch us. That is foolishness. No, not defying our government, no matter how misguided some public policies appear to be to some of us. We must respond with true faith, authentic prayers, and minds shaped by the eternal Truth. Unless we are keeping centered in Christ Jesus, we risk getting it all wrong, one way or another.
Peter, we learned in yesterday’s text, made a faith-filled proclamation about Jesus – “You are the Christ!” He listened to the Spirit, responded in faith, and led the way. Jesus called him a ‘rock,’ in that moment. A few verses later, not many days after his amazing faith words; “Rocky” got it terribly wrong and earned a strong rebuke from Jesus. Every time I read this passage, I cringe at the words the Lord spoke to him, words that reflect the seriousness of letting human wisdom replace spiritual truth. Read it and learn.
- “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
- Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul.” (Matthew 16:21-26, NIV)
Who doesn’t sympathize with Peter’s impulse in this story? He loves Jesus and cannot begin to even imagine how suffering at the hands of cruel men and then dying could possibly be the will of God for his Friend, the Man he is now convinced is the Anointed One who will bring deliverance for the people of God. He is so passionate that he ‘rebukes’ Jesus.
Talk about getting it wrong! He does not just say, “That’s awful” or “We don’t want that.” He gets in Jesus’ face and tells Him to stop! Imagine how he felt when Jesus turned on him and told him he was doing the Devil’s work? How awful was the realization that he was making it more difficult for Jesus to choose to take the road to the Cross, to save the world? “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, and not from God’s.”
This is THE question for me, for you, today: Do I have the mind of Christ so that my choices will reflect the Truth of faith? Christianity is not irrational, but sometimes God calls us to be supra-rational, understanding the world in a way that goes beyond human reason and what we can know with our natural mind. For example, we cannot perceive eternity but we orient our lives around an eternal hope because God has revealed it to us. In this story, Jesus explains to Peter that if self-preservation is his number one goal, he cannot find the life that God has prepared for him! We must be prepared to ‘lose our life’ in the natural scheme of things to find the life God gives that never ends. Yes, that is supra-rational!
As the world appears to go off its axis around us, with financial markets collapsing, schools closing, normal human activities being suspended – let’s be the people of God – with the mind of God, informed by the Spirit.
When others run, we stand.
When others take care of only themselves, we generously care for all.
When despair overwhelms, we stand in hope.
When some say, there is no way we point to the Way, faithful in prayer, our hearts filled with the Love of the Father.
Here is a word from the Word. May it own us . “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 2:5, NKJV) “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7, NKJV)
I am Thine O Lord I have heard Thy voice
And it told Thy love to me
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee
Draw me nearer nearer blessed Lord
To the cross where Thou hast died
Draw me nearer nearer nearer blessed Lord
To Thy precious bleeding side
Consecrate me now to Thy service Lord
By the pow’r of grace divine
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope
And my will be lost in Thine
There are depths of love that I cannot know
‘Till I cross the narrow sea
There are heights of joy that I may not reach
Till I rest in peace with Thee
Fanny Jane Crosby
© Words: Public Domain