In response to Peter’s announcement to Jesus that “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). This prophetic promise should serve as a very great encouragement to anyone who desires to live in the middle of what God is doing in the world today. “This rock” was a reference to Peter’s authentic though imperfect understanding and confession of who Jesus was.
Already Peter had proven to be an authentic though imperfect disciple of Jesus. In Matthew 14:29,30 Peter courageously climbs out of the boat to walk on water at the invitation of Jesus. Yet when he saw the wind and became fearful he began to sink. What has always seemed odd to me is that many people seem to be more drawn to the fact that Peter sank than the amazing reality that he walked on water. The tendency to focus more on a perceived mistake in the midst of an obvious miracle is certainly still alive and well today. God may be using a person and ministry powerfully, yet the reality of them not being perfect or appropriate by some standard often trumps the focus of the manifest work of God for the easily offended.
Peter’s cover story could have included a lot of true statements like, “Peter looked away from Jesus!” “Peter got captivated by the wind!” “Peter proves to be a fearful man!” And most damaging, “Peter again fails and sinks in shame!” Today someone would feel called to quickly write a blog or produce a malicious video detailing Peter’s apparent weaknesses and failures! Of course nothing would accurately be reported regarding the truth that Peter did in fact walk on water. Honestly, who cares if it was only for a few steps? I can just imagine an onlooker cynically saying to Peter, “I can’t believe you looked away from Jesus and sank in the water.” But then Peter responds, “I can’t believe you stayed in the boat!” It’s also encouraging to note that when Peter did indeed begin to sink because he lost his focus, that Jesus immediately lifted him up. Peter is the only disciple who ever experienced Jesus in that way. I say, “Good job Peter!”
It is always those who claim to know God and His ways best, yet who live outside of what He is actively doing, who are most critical of those who have courageously stepped into the supernatural realm of God’s work in the world today.
Years ago in a previous church I planted, two families independently announced that they were leaving the church. The first family told me that it was because the church focused too much on the Holy Spirit and His empowering presence among us. The other family shared that they were leaving because we didn’t emphasize these things enough! The interesting fact is neither were active participants in what God was supernaturally doing in that season.
It’s easy to grow bored, disillusioned and critical while sitting as a spectator outside of the action. We were made to live in the middle of what God is doing in the world today. You will never be joyfully satisfied as a disciple of Jesus until you are locked arm in arm with other authentic though imperfect followers of the Wild Messiah!
Thank God we are saved and anointed to serve by grace!
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