Monday, April 29, 2013
Flip Flop Faith
Matt. 16:21 ¶ From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.
Matt. 16:22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.”
Peter had just confessed that Jesus was the Messiah, the very son of God. This was a very powerful statement and up until this time Jesus had been praying that the disciples would begin to fully understand who he was and his mission. Once this powerful confession was given, Jesus felt that he could reveal the next stage of his work with the disciples. First, they had to know that he was the Messiah, and now they had to know what was coming. There would be difficult days ahead.
They would have to go to Jerusalem where he would undergo great suffering. A contingent of individuals were already in Jerusalem who would make his life extremely difficult. The elders, men who were the rich supporters of the religious work in town. They would be disgusted by Jesus and his message and they would help supply necessary funds to get rid of him! Next would be the chief priests. These men were accustomed to having power as a result of their position. Jesus and his new kingdom language threatened the positions that they had carved out for themselves. They would never give up their power for a man such as Jesus. Better to be rid of him than to have him create chaos with their system. And finally the scribes would make him suffer. These were the conceited scholars who thought that they could discern better than anyone else what the scriptures had to say. How dare an "unschooled" man like Jesus come and talk to them as if he knew more than they did! And the result would be that these men would connive together to have Jesus put to death.
But Jesus also knew that he would be victorious over death and the grave. He told the disciples that even if all these things were done to him -- he would raise again on the third day.
Peter had just declared that Jesus was the Messiah. He was the son of God! Jesus trusted him enough to reveal to him the difficulties of what lie ahead, and then Peter declares, "God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you." What happened to his faith? How could he have been so sure about who Jesus was, but then unwilling to believe the prophetic words and declare Jesus' statement as untrue!
No -- this devotional has nothing to do with first-century footwear! Instead it has to do with where we stand in our faith.
Peter often comes across as a pretty emotional guy. There is emotion in his statements about Jesus being the Messiah and about the fact that this wasn't going to happen to him! But maybe it was because of his emotions that he would flip flop around in his faith. He may have been declaring the truth when he said Jesus was the Messiah, but did he really believe it? By the time Jesus was telling him about the suffering he would experience, his emotions again took over and he said No! But if Peter truly believed that Jesus was the Messiah, wouldn't he have simply accepted what Jesus said and tried to understand God's purposes in all of this?
Do our emotions sometimes result in flip-flopping faith? In the heat and passion of the moment during worship or prayer we may be willing to submit and confess our faith to God. What happens next is that we head out into life and are confronted with things that seem so unfair and we shout out "no!" It's easy to condemn Peter for his flip-flop faith and yet we may need to realize that we tend to do the same thing.
Unfortunately our emotions do tend to get the better of us and at times they work to derail our faith. These emotions can be good or bad. In Peter we see a variety of emotions. Sometimes he's excited, then he's angry, or maybe he's even scared. However, after his experience at Pentecost we seem to see a different Peter. Is it possible that when we allow our lives to come under the submission of the power of the Holy Spirit, God can even out our emotional responses? He doesn't remove our personalities or the unique people he has created us to be, but by being empowered by the Spirit we can live a life of faith that does not need to flip flop on a regular basis.
I'm afraid we see too much flip-flopping religion these days. Or, maybe I'm even more afraid that the world sees this type of religion and wonders what in the world is wrong with those Christians! Maybe it's because we continue to allow our emotions to rule the day and refuse to allow ourselves to come under submission to the leadership of the Holy Spirit in all things. Peter did finally come to this place and Jesus was able to build his church upon him -- upon the Rock. What might he be able to do with us today if we would come to a place of complete and total submission to him?
Lord, may the Spirit lead my life every single day. Amen.