I find it somewhat hard to believe how arrogant we can be as Christians at times. And I say that with an enormous amount of love in my heart for the Body of Christ. We believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and settle into this “faith” lifestyle, confident and assured we would never deny or betray Him.
When Jesus was celebrating Passover and instituting His Last Supper, we see arrogance in Peter and the disciples. Again, I say this in love not in judgment. Matthew 26:31-35 “Then Jesus said to them, ‘All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: “I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.’ Peter answered and said to Him, ‘Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ Peter said to Him, ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!’ And so said all the disciples.” (emphasis mine)
Do you see it? It was not just Peter who decided he knew better than Jesus. It was ALL the disciples. Look again! Jesus told ALL of them they would stumble and Peter said, “Not true!” Jesus then assured him that indeed he would deny Him three times. Peter protested again, “Not true!” And all the disciples said the same thing.
Friends, we are no different than Peter and the disciples. Jesus tells us we are scattered sheep but we say “No, Jesus, we must defend our Pentecostal, Lutheran, Charismatic, AOG, Catholic, Baptist, or Independent theology.” Jesus says again, “You are denying Me when you spend your time defending your position rather than giving the reason for your hope.” And we, like Peter and the disciples say “Not true!” and continue to walk in denial of what the Lord is speaking to us.
If you know the rest of the story the disciples did stumble, the sheep were scattered, and Peter did deny him, contrary to what Peter “thought” he would or would not do. Matthew 26:75 “And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ So he went out and wept bitterly.” Let us not read this as though Peter was so different than we are. Perhaps we do not think of what we do as “denying Christ” but a close look at our attitudes and actions reveal far more than what we “think”.
I am in ministry and it never ceases to amaze me the things Christians will argue about or defend to protect their faith. However, in 99% of the cases we are defending our right to believe in our church’s theology rather than faith in Jesus Christ. At this point, Peter believed in himself more than he believed in Jesus. Oftentimes, we believe in our understanding more than we believe in Jesus. We have had the privilege of pastoring churches “in” a denomination and “outside” of a denomination, as well as minister in several independent ministries. Unequivocally, people in every place think they have the corner on truth. I will tell you that people are passionate about defending their belief system while speaking against other Christian theologies to the complete exclusion of Scripture if necessary.
The danger in what I have just written is that we, as Christians often forget how fragile and precious our relationship with Jesus Christ is. We must focus our attention on Him and stop defending our right to believe “what” we believe. Scripture tells us in 1 Peter 3:15 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;”
I hope you see this! We are to give a defense to everyone who asks for a reason for the hope in us, not give a defense for why we believe a particular theology on baptism, gifts of the spirit, communion, or the like. Though it is true we must defend the essentials of Christian faith in Jesus Christ, the Bible being infallible as our Source of Truth, and belief in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, it is also true we spend far too much time defending non-essentials of faith. Being involved with different parts of the body of Christ can be disheartening as we witness much of the time and energy as sheep (laypeople) spent trying to convince the shepherd (leader) their belief on any given theology is correct and all others wrong. Christians refuse to live in unity, elevating the importance of non-essentials in an effort to be “right” rather than “righteous”. Peter was busy being right rather than listening to what Jesus said to him.
Our time and energy should be focused on sanctifying the Lord God in our hearts, being ready to defend our hope with meekness and fear. Beloved believers – we are to defend our hope in Jesus Christ with gentleness and mildness (meekness) and in reverence and respect for authority and rank (fear). We are not to argue why we are right and others are wrong. We are to follow our under-shepherds not try to rally people to our way of thinking. We are to defend our great Hope, who brings hope to the hopeless.
The truth is we are denying Jesus when we waste our time being “right”. We are denying Him the honor and praise which He is due! We are denying Him the right to lead His chosen shepherds to gather the sheep of His pasture. We are denying Him the right to speak into our lives and teach us new things. We are denying Him the right to be our Lord, to be the Master of our lives!
Friends, let us not walk in the same deception, the same denial, the same arrogance as Peter and the disciples. Instead, let us learn from what they experienced, humble ourselves before the Lord God Almighty, and receive His words as truth. We praise God that Peter and the disciples came back to the place of humbleness and revelation. We praise God for Peter’s example to us of weeping bitterly for thinking he was right and Jesus was wrong. Perhaps we have never thought of it in those terms, however, when Peter remembered the words of Jesus I cannot help but think he thought of his own arrogance in believing himself to be right rather than Jesus! Let us not be so quick to defend our theologies, but be very quick to defend the reason for our hope – Jesus Christ!
Father God, we ask you to reveal all arrogance, denial, and betrayal in our lives, especially in relation to our faith in You. We pray for an outpouring of revelation, humbleness, and fear to bring us to that place of righteousness instead of needing to be right. We pray for conviction which would cause us to weep bitterly when we remember your words to us. And we thank You for your grace and forgiveness that causes us to rise from our weeping and rejoice in Your Hope! We love You Lord! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!