Tag Archives: Peter

Knowing and Growing

A child paints a face with simplicity, using a circle, black spots for eyes and one color for skin.  If that child matures and becomes an artist, she can more accurately portray that same face, using careful observation and a complex mixture of paints and pigments.  Peter describes a similar process as he writes about how to mature in our knowledge of Jesus (see “Knowing,” posted below).  The process involves a careful observation of the character of Jesus, followed by attempts to portray those same traits on the canvas our lives.  As we learn to do so more accurately and naturally, knowing Jesus becomes more fruitful.
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (2Peter 1:5 -8)

Instead of viewing that somewhat intimidating passage as an impossible to-do list, think of it as a pallet of colors that you will gradually learn to mix together to achieve a pleasing result.

Held by Faith

When Jesus said to Peter,

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32)

He was warning Peter about the trial to come.  But more than that, He was encouraging him, informing Peter that He would keep him safe.   Jesus prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail!

So, here’s the question: When we suffer, when we are discouraged and confused, who is responsible for making sure our faith doesn’t fail?   After all, faith is our lifeline, our means of connecting to God.  Who protects it?  Whose job is it to keep our faith strong?  Our natural inclination is to believe that we must work harder to keep our faith strong.  We have to tell ourselves to believe.  But is that true?

In Peter’s situation, Jesus prayed that his faith would not fail.   Maybe you think that Peter was more important to Jesus than you are.  Is that true?  (Hint:  What did Jesus teach about “the least of these, my brothers”? – Matthew 25:40ff)  Do you think that Jesus, the One Who promised,

And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:39-40)

… would somehow fail to pray for your faith?

And how did you get your faith?  Did you work it up?  Did you “squinch” up your face and ball your fists and hold your breath?  Or was your faith given to you by God?

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

By the way, when God gives out gifts, batteries – rechargables – are included.

The toddler is going with his grandfather, down to the soda shop to get a cone of mint-chip.  As they get ready to cross Main, Grampa holds out his hand and says, “Hold onto my hand and don’t let go.”   Hand in hand, off they go, picking their way through a break in traffic.  Whose job is it to make sure the child is still holding on?

In my Father's Hand

Faithguard

Just before Jesus went to be tortured to death, He said something strange to Peter:

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. (Luke 22:31)

Regardless of exactly what Satan had in mind to do, it doesn’t sound like fun.  In most church circles, our response would be to pray and ask Jesus not to let that happen.  Most of our prayer requests are for God to remove some kind of suffering, right?  But not Jesus, at least not in this circumstance.  He said:

“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. ” (Luke 22:32a )

Apparently, Jesus was going to grant Satan’s request.  The disciples (the word “you” in v. 31 is plural) were going to experience a time of “sifting.”  In Jesus’ perfect understanding, this time of suffering would produce something good, either for the disciples or for His Kingdom in general.  So Jesus did not take the suffering away.  What He prayed for, instead, was that Peter’s faith may not fail!    Jesus prayed for the continued sufficiency of Peter’s faith, so that he would remain connected to God by it as he went through this period of undefined suffering  –  through, and then by faith, out the other side.  Jesus continues:

And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. (Luke 22:32b)

When the coastguard sends a ship out on a rescue, their desire is not to keep the ship in the harbor, where it will be safe from the storm, but that their radar and radio systems would remain intact as long as they need them during the rescue mission.   There are lots of flaws with that analogy, but you get the idea:  Jesus doesn’t promise us freedom from suffering, He doesn’t remove us from all temptation and trial.  In fact, Jesus promised us that in this world we will suffer.  But, no doubt, He prays for His followers, as He did for Peter, that our faith may not give out.  He guards it.

When Jesus taught us to pray, the last part of the prayer was that God would lead us from temptation and deliver us from the Evil One.  As we are tempted, He leads us.  As we are attacked, He delivers, or rescues us. We are empowered by our faith as we go through suffering.  We are led on the right path through the suffering  and are delivered out on the other side of the suffering because our faith keeps us connected securely to God.

Think about how those observations fit into all we have been saying about faith (See: “Loud and Clear”  and  “Basic Faith”).  Then ask this question:  Whose job is it to make sure your faith doesn’t fail?

Stay tuned…