Highs and Lows — coming back from a bad day (or so)

Life looks something like this. For everyone.

Matthew 16

Life looks something like this. For everyone.

I don’t think it’s a mystery that Christians are human.  Sometimes we’re a little bit too human, subjecting ourselves to scrutiny by being completely ridiculous and making Christianity look really, really bad.

I was going to make a list of famous instances, but you have probably heard enough examples of pastors acting foolish and media reports vilifying these guys for life. We feel pretty bad for these guys, but typically it’s just forgettable news.

But no one is impervious.  The last several weeks of my life have been defined by extreme highs and lows: moments of resolve and determination, and others of total disregard for integrity. If you haven’t been in the same spot, you’re lying.

In Matthew 16, Peter, one of the big guns in the gospels, had each of these moments back to back.

The high
Jesus asks His disciples what the people think of Him. Maybe He was feeling a little lonely and needed some reassurance about how He was perceived.  The disciples rattle off a few theories people have about Him
Then He asks who the disciples believe He is.  Peter’s golden moment in the gospels appears right here:

You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

After a misunderstanding of Jesus’ discourse about bread, it’s refreshing that one of the disciples got it right. Jesus commends Peter for his stellar response.  I bet Peter’s feeling pretty good at this point. Wouldn’t you be?

The low
Presumably moments after Peter passes the spiritual honors exam, he speaks up again, but with different results.  Jesus points out that He must die to fulfill His mission on earth, and Peter refuses to believe it:

Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to you!

Peter’s noble intentions are met with an extremely harsh response from Jesus:

Get behind me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.

Just after Jesus gives Peter the “keys to the kingdom”, He draws a comparison between him and Satan.  Nice. The remainder of this chapter deals with pride and the denial of self, implying a response to Peter’s mega-muff.

The point
Even after this gaff, Peter isn’t kicked out of the cool-guy circle, which should communicate something to all of us: we have high and lows, but Jesus loves us at both sides of the spectrum.

Ever gotten plastered right after Bible study? Or hit up that website you shouldn’t be on before you’ve even opened up your Bible in the morning?While He might not completely overlook these transgressions, they don’t result in abandonment: in fact, it is in these times that we should draw ever closer to God, because it’s when we need Him the most.

Don’t let guilt become your new Lord, no matter where you are today — His grace is definitely enough.

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