Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).
How Jesus loved people:
Jesus knew Peter would say something so stupid and offensive, Jesus would call him Satan. Jesus knew Peter would wield his sword so recklessly, he would cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant Malchus. Jesus knew Peter would disown Him and even call down curses in response to a teen-age girl’s questions about Christ in the courtyard of the high priest. But here we not only see Jesus accept Peter completely, just the way he was, but we see Him rename him, Peter, which means “Rock.” (Matthew 16:21-23, John 18:10, Matthew 26:69-75)
If Peter were an associate pastor in today’s church, I think he almost certainly would be fired. Imagine with me what the conversation might be like.
Board of Directors: “You said what? To who?”
Associate pastor Peter: “I rebuked Jesus.”
Board of Directors: “Let me see if I have this straight. You, an associate pastor, rebuked God. Is that right?”
Board of Directors: “You whipped out a sword and did what with it?”
Board of Directors: “A teen-age girl asked you about Christ and you disowned your Lord and Savior? Publicly?”
“I’m sorry Peter, but you’re an embarrassment to this church and to the Christian faith. You’re just not fit for ministry.”
How you can too:
Of course Jesus knew all this was to come. Jesus knew accepting Peter into His circle was going to be messy.
But He did it anyway.
You may have read the story, that came out recently, about the atheist who was embroiled in a battle with local government officials of Henderson County, Texas, concerning a nativity display on their front lawn. The atheist, named Patrick Greene, began to lose his eyesight to cataracts, after which there was an outpouring of help from local Christians (unbelievers helped as well). In response to those believers who reached out to him in that way, Patrick Greene ultimately received Christ. (See Atheist Becomes Christian After Believers Show Him Compassion)
I posted a link to this article yesterday and received some interesting comments from a professing atheist. The comment thread went like this:
Atheist: “Do some research on this particular gentleman. And on the atheist community’s opinion of this particular gentleman before he converted.”
My reply: “I did a little research as you recommended. I think I see what you mean. It appears many in atheist community had problems with him, before he converted.”
Atheist: “And I don’t mean to imply his conversion is false, just to be clear. I have no idea. Just, if you wanted to cite a convert as a positive example to other atheists, this gentleman may not be the person you want.”
“…this gentleman may not be the person you want.” He said. My research on Patrick Greene revealed two things:
1) His behavior was very similar to Peter’s. He liked to whip out his sword and cut off people’s ears, so to speak.
2) This gentleman was not a person the atheist community wanted. They were embarrassed by him.
So this was my reply to the atheist’s last comment: “I appreciate your concern, however what I want isn’t important. What’s important is this is precisely the person Christ wants.” (Previous post and comment thread)
Jesus accepts the Peters, and the Patrick Greenes, and you, and even me. And if you desire to love people the way Christ did, you will too.
So stop setting the bar so high for the people in your life. Take down that bar you’ve set so high and lay it at the foot of the cross, where Jesus died on Good Friday, not just for your sins, but for the sins of every single person in your life, for the sins of every person in the world. Roger Ailes in his classic book, “You Are the Message,” talks about CEO’s and other high powered people (including Ronald Reagan) he used to coach in the art of communication. He said, time and again, the single biggest change these people needed to make was to simply lighten up! Accept people for who they are, warts and all.
Loving people is going to be messy.
Do it anyway.
You Are The Message by Roger Ailes
Pingback: Finding Your Identity (and what that has to do with Jesus) | God Running