Peter - the making of a rock
The conversion of a soul is the miracle of a moment. The manufacture of a saint is the task of a lifetime.The words of Jesus to Peter in Matthew 16:16-18 are very well known.
- Alan Redpath
Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
Jesus words to Peter ?you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church? gives us the picture of a strong and reliable man upon whom the Lord could depend on. But what was Peter really like?
We know Peter was called to follow Jesus - forsaking his fishing profession in the process (Matthew 4:18). He was first among the disciples (Matthew 10:2) and a privileged member of the inner circle of Jesus as indicated in the Mount of transfiguration (Matthew 17:4-5); the miracle of life in Jarius house, where Jesus brought a girl back to life (Luke 8:49-56); and in the garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14: 32-42). In all these cases Jesus took Peter, James and John with him.
Yet for all the high status Jesus granted Peter, we witness a man who 'reasoned with his feelings rather than his mind'. Nevertheless, his dedication and love for the Lord cannot be questioned.
The impulsive man
Peter was a man of inconsistencies. One minute he was boldly walking on water, with his faith as solid as a rock, the next he looked at the waves and had a sinking feeling, almost sinking in the process (Matthew 14: 23-32).
Peter was the man who proudly announced his absolute commitment to Jesus (Luke 22:33; Matthew 26:35), boldly and fearlessly cutting off the right ear of one of those attempting to arrest Jesus, proving his commitment (John 18:10-11). Yet within hours he is denying all knowledge of Jesus before a young girl - a feat he repeats three times before retreating from his cowardice in repentance (John 18:15-27). How can we account for someone being so bold yet so timid at the same time? An inconsistency that is not rare in many of us today.
Some have accounted for Peter inconsistency by claiming he was not filled with the Holy Spirit then. They point to a Peter after the day of Pentecost, boldly proclaiming the gospel and seeing thousands being added to the body of Christ (Acts 2). Yet they fail to acknowledge that we can be indwelt by the spirit and still mastered by the flesh.
Lets view the same Peter years after Pentecost in Galatians 2:11-14
Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.
And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, "If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?"
Your inconsistency will trip you up and become a stumbling block to those around you. The Holy Spirit in Peter did not relieve him of the responsibility of being consistent. Peter?s inconsistency can be traced to his tendency to act in his own interest without thinking through the consequences. It was something to do with the renewal of the mind.
Even when Peter was 'doing the right thing' he was still impulsive. Peter was the man who the Father, Son and Holy Spirit all had to interrupt at some point.
On the Mount of transfiguration he was interrupted by the Father (Matthew 17:4-6); in Capernaum he was anticipated and interrupted by the Son (Matthew 17:24-27); and in Cornelius house he was interrupted by the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:34-35, 44-48).
Peter?s impulsiveness was a weakness rather than a sin. God can work with weak people. Yet if we refuse to deal with our weakness it will deal with us.
The manufacturing of a saint is a lifetime process and Peter eventually got there. Let?s see how he made it.
Dealing with inconsistency
1. Admit your faults
Scholars believe that the gospel of Mark is the musings of Peter recorded by Mark. If this is so, we witness a Peter who was not afraid to recall his failures and weaknesses (Mark 8:31-33; Mark 14: 66-72). Indeed, we all need to admit our own weaknesses to ourselves before we can move on. If you continue to blame your procrastination, inconsistency, unreliability and whatever weakness you have, on other people, your genes, or whatever excuse you can recall, you will never be able to move forward. Admitting your faults is the first step to freedom from them.
2. Victory starts in your thought life
Peter wrote the epistle of first and second Peter. In 1Peter 1:13-21 we are granted an insight into the mature Peter who had become the rock Jesus had talked about. Notice how verse thirteen talks about preparing our minds. Here Peter is not just talking from revelation but from practical life experience. He realised that our minds are a battlefield. We have to learn to think and act like Christ.
This will no doubt take the grace of God, notice verse thirteen again talks of grace. When you realise that what you sow today you will reap tomorrow, you will become wearier of going astray. If you have a problem with inconsistency or laziness, after admitting your faults you need to accept that it is damaging to you and ask God for the grace to live above it. Understand in your mind why it is wrong. Give the Holy Spirit something he can remind you of the next time you are tempted to go astray.
3. Do not grow weary of the journey.
Remember it takes a moment to become a Christian but a lifetime to become a rock. When Jesus called Peter a rock he was looking at the potential in Peter not the current person. If God has faith in the Holy Spirit within you to accomplish the fruit of a godly character, so should you.
Peter started out as an inconsistent zealous person who often acted out of tune with God. He became the man God had always made him to be. So will you if you humbly accept your faults. Ponder on the way you should be living and ask God for the grace to live the right way. It will be worth the journey.
Remember: You are always sowing your future and reaping your past. It takes a journey to become a rock for Christ so the sooner you begin the better.
Peter can be found in the Bible in:
All the Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
Galatians 1 and 2
He also wrote 1 & 2 Peter
The Living Word Library
24 August 2006