Thursday, May 4, 2017
“Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.” Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. 1 Peter 2:10-12(NLT)
As dramatic as apostle Paul’s conversion was, from persecutor of the church to defender of the faith, Peter’s conversion was just as wide a swing from impulsive, brash, volatile, and self-serving to humble servant who lived-into the mercy he received. The difference in the two apostles was simply time. Paul’s happened nearly in a heartbeat; it took Peter a lifetime.
Jesus had called Simon “Peter”. He called him a rock; not a boulder, but Jesus said Peter, when he finally reached maturity, would be a little pebble. A boulder is pretty much immovable, but Peter’s behavior was anything but steady. He could vacillate from boldly declaring he would die for Jesus, raising a sword against the high priest’s soldier to cut off an ear, to wimping-out when a little girl asked him if he was a follower of Jesus outside Pilate’s house. Peter had a hard time matching his bragging and his behavior. Will the real Peter, made of stone, please stand up?
Paul had to call him out at least once. When Paul had been discipling the young believers of the Galatian church, Peter came to see this miracle of Gentiles brought into the faith. He ate and fellowshipped with them, but when the Jewish Christians from Jerusalem arrived, Peter drew back from the Gentiles like they had leprosy. Paul got in Peter’s face and reminded him that hypocrisy is a pretty poor witness. (Galatians 2:11)
Fast forward years down the road to not long before both Peter and Paul are to be martyred and you find this letter Peter has written to the young believers everywhere, humbly encouraging them to be consistently honorable in their behavior. Is this the pot asking the kettle to not be black? Are you telling us, dear Simon Peter that we ought to do as you say, and not as you do?
Well, of course; that’s the whole point! Peter had lived a lifetime awakening to the fact that all his bragging, ready-to-fight, mouth running/brain on hold, aggression was not what Christ had lived before Peter and the world; nor was it what Christ prophesied that Peter would be…little stone…humble stone.
Peter had learned that pushing your way through life like a boulder rolling through a china shop wasn’t strong leadership, it was demonic and so anti-Christian, it makes you twice the child of Hell in the eyes of those to whom you’re supposed to be Christ’s witness. Peter’s former ways were all about Peter; now the old apostle understood living the Christ-life was all about giving glory to God. It finally got through to the hard-charging man of action that when it comes to sheep, leading is better than driving!
In the kingdom of God we are all leaders AND followers; we are following the One who was meek and lowly, and we are leading others with our behavior.