God never gives up on us

Today’s verse is Matthew 16:15-16.

15Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah,[a] the Son of the living God.”

I don’t think I’ve ever met a single Christian that didn’t identify with Peter one way or another. He was all impulse and instinct, shooting his mouth off and putting his foot in it too. Peter has a reputation in Scripture for screwing up, honestly. If he wasn’t scolding children, he was chopping off people’s ears.

But Peter got one thing right where not all of the other disciples did. Peter knew Who Jesus was. Peter recognized Jesus as the Messiah, the One who had been sent to save Israel. Peter understood that Jesus was the Son of God.

I think that’s something that a lot of Christians need to get straight in their heads today. We have no problem telling people that we’re Christians. And most of the time we don’t even mind telling people that we believe the Bible. But do we mention Jesus much in our everyday conversation? And I don’t mean at church. I mean in the workplace or on the street or in restaurants and movie theatres.

The plain and simple truth is that Jesus makes people uncomfortable. He is not (and never will be) a neutral presence. You can’t just ignore Him, although some people try really hard. Even secular scholars admit that Jesus existed, but then that presents a problem. I’ve heard it said before that Jesus was one of three things: a liar, a lunatic or He is Lord.

If He were a liar, tricking His way into the hearts and minds of people in the first century, He would be the greatest con man in history. But lying seems unlikely because there were so many witnesses to the miracles that He did. Similarly, He could have been a lunatic, but His statements aren’t the ravings of a mad man.

So if He isn’t a liar and He isn’t a lunatic, He has to be Lord. It’s the only option left. And that bothers people because it means Jesus is in control. And it means that God really loved us enough to strap on human flesh and come to live in the dirt with us, and sometimes I don’t know what to do with that kind of love. I don’t know how to react to it, and it scares me that anyone could love me that much.

People are rebellious. We want to live the way we want to live. We don’t want to admit that God knows what He’s doing because that means we don’t. And for Jesus to come into the picture and tell us that we have no control over our lives  makes people upset. We want control over our lives because we think we can handle it, because we’re proud, silly people.

Peter had it right. Jesus is the Messiah. He was in the first century. He is today, in the twenty-first century. And we don’t need to be afraid of standing up and declaring the fact when we believe it.

The funny thing is, I think Peter really did believe it. But when he was pressed, he denied it. He ran away. He abandoned Jesus, even though deep in his heart he believed that Jesus was the Son of God.

But when it was over, and after Jesus had come back to life, He tracked Peter down and made sure Peter understood that He still loved him and that there was still a lot of work He needed Peter to do. And from that moment on, Peter became a powerhouse, and he never looked back.

And that tells me that even when we aren’t bold or when we aren’t as vocal about our faith as we probably should be, Jesus still loves us. And He still has plenty of purpose for our lives. And if we can really understand that there is nothing we can to make God love us less (or more), the courage we gain is unflappable. God is on our side so what on earth can stop us? Not a thing.

The only thing that can come between you and God’s plan for your life is you. God won’t force Himself on anyone. Granted, God is still powerful enough to use you even if you’ve given up on Him, but if we turn on backs on Him because of doubt or distrust or hurt or fear, we won’t reach the full potential He has for our lives.

But if we hold on to Him, even in the dark days, and trust Him especially when nothing makes sense, He’ll see us through the hard times. And if we go back to Him after we’ve betrayed Him, He won’t turn us away. He loves us. Jesus understands what it’s like to be human; He spent 33 years living among us and experienced everything we experience. He knows.

So if you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, don’t be afraid to proclaim it. Live it with every breath. And if you’ve been afraid in the past, stop and go back to Him. He’s waiting for you and He wants to let you know that He still has plans for you if you’re willing to step up. Trust me, it’s the best thing you’ll ever do.