Tag Archives: Peter

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

False Mercy

Day 7 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

‘The great sins of the world are superficial wounds on My Heart, but the sins of a chosen soul pierce My Heart through and through…’ (1702)

After Jesus met me with Mercy in my waterless pit of sexual immorality, I turned from sin. I knew I was wrong. Running away from Jesus and His truth did not change the truth. Mercy enabled me to stop running and face the truth—I needed Him because of my sin.

Like the angels imploring Lot to get out of Sodom, Mercy paved the way for my repentance. I moved back to the suburbs and involved myself in a small community of believers. I loved seeking and finding Jesus with them.

Yet often after our gatherings, I felt empty and alone. Self-pity tempted me: ‘no-one understands my struggle’. At the same time, my youthful sexuality was strong and stubborn. Maybe I could find a good Christian lover…

I began to explore the question, hoping for some new take on Scripture. I found it in the first ‘scholarly’ book to challenge the Bible’s traditional view of homosexuality. Written by Anglican Derek Bailey, ‘Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition’ pivoted on the reinterpretation of Sodom in Genesis 19. Bailey insisted that the operative sin of Sodom was inhospitality, not aggressive homosexual lust. He insisted that we rethink our ‘homophobia’ and go easy on gays.

Maybe the good Reverend wanted to make a way for the gay practices of friends or colleagues; maybe he was justifying his own. In spite of my yearning to believe him, I could not endure his gymnastics. So God destroyed a city because the men there weren’t exercising proper ‘angel etiquette’? Don’t insult my intelligence…

When Christian leaders alter the truth of sin, they actually block the way for sinners like me to know Mercy. Such ‘mercy’ is a misnomer and as cruel as death. It could cost souls eternal life. The cost is higher for the blind guides. They put a huge stumbling block in the way of God’s little ones, incurring a judgment described by Jesus as ‘drowning by millstone around neck.’ (Lk. 17:2).

Jesus warns us all: ‘So watch yourselves.’ (v.3) Kindness without truth is false Mercy. It appeals to our delusion that we can have Heaven and our lusts too. Wake up. Peter woke up his flock with this warning about false prophets: ‘By appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom while they themselves are slaves of depravity.’ (2P2:18, 19)

No truth, no Mercy. In my early days of repentance, I knew one thing for sure. Jesus calls us to die. Mercy oils our surrender; Mercy fills the empty, lonely soul and raises him up.

‘Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness…’ (Is. 5:20, 21)

‘Father, grant us clarity as to what pleases You and what does not. Thank you for the clear witness of Scripture and the Church. Help us to discern ‘blind guides’; most importantly, help us to discern our own tendency to conform the truth to our lusts. We especially pray for Christians caught in lies of their own design. Set them free before it is too late. Let the truth set us free for Mercy.’

Abandonment

‘But I cry to you for help, O Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Why, O Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me?
I have suffered your terrors and am in despair. Your wrath has swept over me;
Your terrors have destroyed me. All day long they surround me like a flood;
They have completely engulfed me.
You have taken my companions from me; the darkness is my closest friend.’
PS 88:13-18

Jesus’ rejection, abuse, and murder at the hands of men were not His greatest sorrow. It was His Father’s abandonment of Him on the cross.

Jesus expected the scourge of political and religious foes. The desertion of His disciples, however painful, was bearable.

Through it all, He held fast to His steadfast consolation–the Father who promised to never forsake Him. One cannot imagine His dismay when the Father abandoned Him to the darkness of sin.

He was willing, yet not prepared for the scourge and judgment of sin to fall upon Him. He knew the truth: what is holy cannot commune with what is foul. Jesus realized that the evil in humanity demanded a sacrifice. The price had to be paid. And He knew that whatever bears that sin becomes a horrible, stinking cancer that the Father cannot look upon.

Nothing can be further from the Father than that which is accursed!

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Turning for Good (Friday and Beyond)

We might receive foot-washing and communion and yet still not grasp the cross. Perhaps our need for that cross is not yet clear. We may still believe in our own capacity to follow Him, the self-inspired power of allegiance to Jesus.

Peter the ‘Rock,’ full of bluster and unrefined zeal, helps us here. He believed himself to be among the most radical followers of Jesus. Pride came before his fall on the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion. Until the midnight hour, Peter continued to be stumbled by the prospect of Christ’s humiliation.

He still did not grasp the cross. First he had to suffer the humiliation of his own infidelity.

How often have we seen this before? Many of us have followed Christian leaders whom we granted ‘Rock-like” status, only to be devastated when they fell. How could they? How could men or women espousing, say, ‘traditional values,’ prostitute themselves and so breach trust with us? (Not to mention with their families, their churches, and the greater Christian community?)

Easily. We can preach the cross and its merits for everyone else yet avoid it entirely when it comes to our own need for the cross. We can live in that divide as long as our weaknesses are kept in check. But seasons change, and under the stress of real life, weaknesses become wickedness.

God exposes us as the cross-‘dodgers’ that we are. Such exposure breaks ground in us for mercy.

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Receiving the Fullness of His Love

Maundy Thursday makes one thing perfectly clear. It is God’s faithfulness that makes us faithful. On this night of foot-washing and communion, we behold the full extent of God’s love toward us.

Mercy takes on new meaning as Jesus grants us tokens of the cross that awaits Him. He washes away our filth; He feeds us with bread from heaven. Foreseeing our departure from Him, He grants us powerful assistance for our return.

In His faithful love, we see our unfaithfulness. Here we have a choice. In that gap between perfect love, and our own, our hearts either tenderize or toughen. We can fall forward into His mercy or flee His presence altogether.

Peter did not bolt. But he remained a slow learner. Just before the Passover meal, according to John 13, Jesus began to reveal “the full extent of His love” (v.1) by washing the disciple’s feet. ‘Maundy’ Thursday is derived from the Latin “mandatum”, referring to Jesus’ mandate of the disciples to wash one another’s feet (Jn 13:14).

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Suffering for What is Right

In His mercy, Jesus redeems our suffering. Some of the sorrow we submit to Him is not of particularly noble origins—it may be, as we have seen, the bad fruit of our sin, or the normal wounds and losses we sustain this side of Heaven.

He loves us to the extent that He will take every opportunity to invite us to surrender our sins and wounds. He grants us ‘cross-time’: an opportunity to receive and extend mercy. He makes us that much more fruitful in love.

But suffering for what is right: that is the highest form of suffering, and one to which the Christian seeking mature identification with the Crucified must aspire.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes: ‘The cross is suffering that comes only from our commitment to Jesus Christ…the cross is not the normal suffering tied to natural existence but the suffering tied to being Christian.’

That is what Jesus referred to in the Sermon on the Mount when He spoke of persecution for the sake of righteousness. (Matt. 5:10)

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