by Tyler Robertson
Being bashed because of your faith is not fun, is it? No Christian likes to be teased for their seemingly weird convictions or standards. It is uncomfortable, awkward, and uncertain. But there is a way to escape this gruesome conflict and persecution as a Believer. There is a way to never have to suffer for being a follower of Christ.
This way is through the same path of one of Christ’s closest disciples. It is the path of Peter. Peter was certainly not a man with subtly and discretion at times. Although he was used in a magnificent way at Pentecost, it took a little time under pressure to become a precious vessel of God. He was a man with big dreams and a mouth to fit. But many times when the kitchen got too hot, he—well, let’s take a look…
At the most crucial moments of Christ’s ministry, where do we find Peter? Fast asleep. Christ selected only three of His closest followers—Peter, James, and John—to go with Him to the Garden and pray. In spite of being chosen by the Son of God to intercede on behalf of what was about to take place, Peter fell asleep on the job. Christ asked him in Matthew 26:40-41, “What, ye could not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak.” Peter made the decision to satisfy his flesh instead of yielding to the Spirit in obedience to Christ. What he felt at that moment became superior to what God wanted him to do.
We as Christians can do this very thing in our personal worship and fellowship with God. He is willing to come in and sup with us, but we must open the door (Revelation 3:20).
- We are too busy or too distracted. God is eagerly waiting to give of Himself to us, but we hold no jealousy over our precious time with Him. I promise you that if you set aside a time for Him each day, He will give you the exact amount time that you need to accomplish His will for that day.
- It is too awkward or uncomfortable. I believe that one of the greatest reasons why God’s children do not abide in His presence is because it is too convicting and awkward. The awkwardness doesn’t have anything to do with Him, but everything to do with us. When we see Him for who He is, we see ourselves for who we are. When we open up the pure mirror of His Word, we can see all the imperfections and faults within ourselves. We are afraid of finding a quiet place, for fear of what we might hear Him say. The truth of His Word is the only way we can change, and, let’s be honest, change can get awkward.
John 18:10-11 says, “Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into thy sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?”
Can you imagine what Peter must have thought when he saw the officers and Pharisees coming toward Jesus, the disciples, and himself? I’m sure he assumed that this was the end. He quickly learned that the “fugitive” with him was in complete control of everything. Christ could have called an angelic host to save Him, but He had to drink the Father’s cup so that that Scriptures might be fulfilled.
Peter didn’t take the time to rationalize; he just chose to take matters into his own hands. He reacted with what seemed to be logical: cut off a man’s ear. This action is almost comical when you think about, but may I remind you that it is synonymous to our own acts of courage when we are faced with life’s oppositions. When we take matters into our own hands, we are setting our self up to look pretty silly. Sometimes I wonder if God looks down on His children and snickers at some of our most noble deeds.
We must learn that our own motives and means will never be enough to fight the battles of persecution and trial. When the world seems to “gang up” on us as believers, we must be careful that we never hinder the Fathers business. We must remember that His name is at stake, and we must not bring him reproach by our own hands.
In Matthew 26:69-75, Peter was confronted about his association with Jesus. Once again, he only had moments to make his decision. Do you remember the story? While standing around a fire, waiting and watching to see what would happen to the Man he had followed for nearly 3 years, he was confronted by a curious woman: “Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.” Almost instantly Peter cast down the accusation and claimed he did not even know whom the damsel was talking about. He went on to deny any affiliation with Christ twice more, and on the third time, he heard the cock crow. The previous words of Christ rang loudly in his mind: “This night before the cock crow, thou wilt deny me thrice” (Matthew 26:34). Peter immediately left the scene and wept bitterly for his betrayal.
It is easy for us to point the finger and look down at Peter when we have probably have done the same thing. People confront us of our faith, and we try to alter the conversation or sugar-coat things so that we don’t sound like a weirdo. We want to “do our Jesus thing” but still have the acceptance of others around us. This is what often makes our preaching seem empty and vague, and our display of Christianity seem dead—all in a silly act to be “relevant.” God is not looking to send relevance to the world; He is looking to send revival to the hearts of His children. Christ has many fans, but very few followers. Fans cheer from the sidelines, but followers of Christ take up the cross (Mark 8:34; 10:21).
At the time of Peter’s last days, most of the disciples had been martyred. He would also die a cruel death as he was said to be crucified upside down, for he felt unworthy to die the same way as Christ. Wow! From a cocky, out-spoken man, to a humble and surrendered saint of God. It is no doubt that Peter made some mistakes and was placed under intense fire in his ministry, but one thing remains; he finished well.
Jesus didn’t promise us prosperity, but He did promise us pain and persecution (Luke 6:22). This is the price of cross-bearing. Cross-bearing doesn’t sound like a task for the followers of a King, but it is mandatory for the job. Remember, it is not about what you are doing, but about Who you are doing it with. “And he that taketh not up his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” Matthew10:38-39.
If we take up the cross, and leave all our ambitions and desires behind, we may truly find life abundant in Him alone.
But what if we do not want to suffer for His name sake? How can we avoid this world’s pressures and accusations on our faith? How can we excuse ourselves from taking up the Master’s cross? The only way is to deny Him and run: fail to commune with God, fight the battles on our own, and forsake the Master. That is the only way.
We all have a decision to make when hardship comes. Will we forsake or follow?
“Let not the righteous dread the cross, for it will not crush them. It may be painted with iron colours by our fears, but it is not made of that heavy metal. We can bear it, and we will bear it right joyously.” – Charles Spurgeon