My maternal grandfather was a prosecutor, but none of his debating genes reached me. I hate arguing. Makes my teeth itch. I’m so compliant that I open the ketchup package where it says, “Tear Here.” I’m Nellie-Never-Fight, the avoid conflict at all costs girl.
Unless, of course, relationship is involved.
Case in point: A friend and I had shared a hotel room, and the last morning we began packing up our phone and tablet chargers. She had an iPhone and iPad. I had an iPad and Droid phone. There was only one “fat” white charger that I knew went to my iPad, but she insisted it was for her iPhone.
Normally, I would acquiesce and give her the charger. We live only ten minutes from each other and could easily resolve the mix-up later in the week. But she was leaving for a 3-week vacation to France in a few days, and this charger was my only link to FaceTime with my grandkids. I wasn’t about to let go of that charger because RELATIONSHIP with my grand babies was on the line! The easy-going, compliant friend she knew turned into grandma bear who needed that charger. It turns out I’m quite a fighter when relationships are at stake.
To the Death?
The Holy Spirit has gifted many of you with the gifts of mercy, service, and helps so you can serve Him (and His Body, the church) with a level of compassion that exceeds human sympathy.
I, however, score in the 0-1 range on spiritual gifts inventories for all three of those gifts. *Sigh* My passion is stirred for people to KNOW God’s Word, to teach, to disciple, etc. No matter what you’re passionate about, the question today is: Are we willing to defend it to the death?
Are you willing to protest social injustices that flip your passion-switch? Are you willing to leave the comfort of your home and serve on a mission field? Are you willing to defend the truth of God’s Word…to the death?
I want to be careful before answering any of those questions flippantly as Peter did when Jesus predicted his betrayal:
“‘Truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, ‘this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.’
But Peter declared, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ And all the other disciples said the same.”
Why Did Peter Deny?
I’ve often wondered why Peter denied Jesus. He was arguably the strongest physically—from most historical accounts. He was most certainly outspoken, unafraid to speak his mind in front of Jesus, the other disciples, and crowds of people. He’d seen nearly all of Jesus’ miracles and had been included in His inner circle of three closest friends.
And Peter didn’t just deny Jesus once. He was given two opportunities to rethink his denial, but he denied Jesus all three times:
“A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, ‘This man was with him.’
But he denied it. ‘Woman, I don’t know him,’ he said.
A little later someone else saw him and said, ‘You also are one of them.’
‘Man, I am not!’ Peter replied.
About an hour later another asserted, ‘Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.’
Peter replied, ‘Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!’ Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.”
Luke 22:56-62 (emphasis added)
Second Chance Glance
I believe a transaction took place when the Lord caught Peter’s eye. Peter may have interpreted it as judgment, but I believe Jesus meant it as a promise—for a second chance.
I’ve had similar second—and third, and fourth…chances—when I’ve failed to stand up for Jesus. Family dinners. At work. At school. In the grocery aisle. Whenever I hear my God being ridiculed or demeaned.
Why do I let it happen? It’s not for lack of knowledge. I know the Scriptures. I’ve heard lots of sermons. It’s not for lack of experience. I’ve felt His personal presence in my life. I’ve witnessed specific answers to my prayers. All these proofs of His existence and His love—and yet I deny Him with my silence. Why?
Consider the words you’re reading right now your Second Chance Glance…Jesus meeting your gaze. Watch Him being led to the Cross. Watch Him suffer…and die…for you. And then wait…just a few moments…as the stone rolls away from the grave! SIN AND DEATH He conquers for you, and He beckons you to a quiet beach for a chat…
Call to Relationship
After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples (and others) several times, but He makes a special appointment with Peter…
“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’
‘Yes, Lord,’ he said…
Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’…
The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.’”
John 21:15-17 (emphasis added)
Jesus knew that only RELATIONSHIP could strengthen Peter to a commitment that would never waiver—even unto death. Someday, Peter would indeed willingly forfeit his life, and it wouldn’t be for a set of rules or justice or blind faith.
Peter gave his life for Love. It was—and is—the only commitment stronger than death.
We can know the Scriptures inside and out, have devoted Christian friends and family, and serve the Lord with all our hearts—but if we don’t LOVE the Lover of our souls, our faith will falter when the real testing comes.
- What does it mean to know the Lover of your soul?