He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Mark 8:31-34
I think I would be like Peter, “Say, what? The Messiah is going to have to suffer? He’s going to die? Oh, no, no, no Jesus, you’ve got it all wrong. I’m investing my life in you. You’re my shining hope. You’re going to throw down the establishment. You’re going to make everything better.”
I just have this mindset that suffering means something is wrong. I’ve been on this life long quest to live the right life, a safe life. And to me, that means a life where I don’t make mistakes and I avoid suffering. Because, again, suffering would mean that something is going wrong. It would mean that Satan is winning, that worse is sure to happen.
It would mean being out of control. After all, how could being sucked into a vortex of chaos be part of God’s plan?
But when Peter tried to tell Jesus something like this, he got rebuked. Jesus called him out in front of his bros, said he was “Satan.” Ouch.
God just sees things in a whole different way than we do.
Lately I’ve been thinking about how one of the attributes of God is peace. Peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit. (Gal 5:22) The famous blessing of Numbers 6 says, “May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace.” (Num 6:26 NLT)
And I’ve thought, “How can God be peaceful? There’s so much bad going on all the time.”
But then I realized that God isn’t afraid of the bad things. They grieve him deeply, but he doesn’t fear them. Because he is stronger than evil. Because he can stop it at any time. Because he knows his plan, which is good and unfolding as he intends. Because he knows he will win.
God really is peace.
And I saw that this peace extends to me. I am never outside of God’s control, never out of the reach of his hand. Chaos cannot sweep me away.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Ps 139:9
Okay, confession here. I love to read romances. There’s a frequent theme — a female character who is beautiful but bratty gets pursued by a male character who has such a force of love for her that no matter what she does, he’s not deterred.
Of course this is fiction. I could do a lot of damage to my marriage by being bratty.
But it’s not fiction when it comes to God. My little fits and snits aren’t going to scare him away. He doesn’t think, “Sheesh, this girl has issues! Let me go hang with someone else instead.”
No! His heart’s desire to hang with me — and with you! He will never turn away.
And that is why Jesus had to suffer and die. It was part of his plan for you. He pursued you, and nothing is going to deter him from sticking to you like glue.
It just doesn’t feel like love, sometimes. It doesn’t feel like things are going right.
Here’s what we think it should feel like– the song from the Lego Movie.
And it’s so hard to not be like prideful Peter when it doesn’t go that way.
We just had an outdoor service on one of the coldest days of the year. It was preceded by a men’s campout the night before, where the guys had to endure rain and temperatures in the thirties!
We planned to have piping hot chili for our fellowship lunch. I fussed and slaved over cooking my chili. I heated it in the crock pot, and then once I got to the location, I got out our special extension cord with multiple outlets and plugged it in so it wouldn’t get cold.
There was just one thing. There were at least 7 other crock pots of chili and soups. Some of them were cold when they got there, and had to be heated up. But there weren’t enough outlets on the serving table. So we had to unplug the warm ones and plug in the colds ones.
Then we started church. I tried to focus on worship. But I kept getting nervous. What if the crock pots that were unplugged were getting cold? It was 38 degrees, and windy! Would there be anything worse than eating cold chili on a cold day? So I brought a couple of the crock pots, including mine, into the kitchen to plug them in there. I had to set them on a narrow ledge by the sink. In the process of arranging them, my crock pot fell in the sink with a loud clatter, dumping out a sizable part of my wonderful chili. Ack!!
It reminds me of my life. I try so hard to make everything perfect, and my efforts can actually make things worse!
It would be easy to complain about the things that were challenging about our outdoor service. I do need to apologize to the moms who brought their little children. I thought that would work, but it was too cold for the babies.
But as I kept rehashing the things I wished had gone more smoothly, it occurred to me that maybe there was a reason God made the coldest time to be the days of our men’s campout and outdoor service.
Maybe God’s thinking wasn’t our thinking. Maybe he wanted us to see that happiness isn’t based on living our comfortable routines, but on something deeper.
Maybe we needed for our chili to spill and our fingertips to get numb to learn that we could find joy anyway.
I saw so many things that inspired me. Brian having his quiet time in the chilly early morning.
Bill going above and beyond to cook a hearty breakfast.
Graham preaching when he was frozen to the bone and had to wear a blanket. Here he is leading a prayer.
Nate manning the little camping stove and heating a pan of water so everyone could have hot drinks. (Wish I had a picture of that.) I could go on and on.
You know, even though it was challenging, everyone was cheerful and looking for ways to serve.
It was like the Grinch who stole Christmas. No matter what, we still had a joyful time being together.
Sometimes God doesn’t have things go like we think they should. Sometimes it feels wrong.
But we can let Jesus’s rebuke to Peter be one to us as well. Get behind us, Satan! No complaining! No faithlessness! No just thinking of the concerns of men!
Let’s seek to have God’s mindset. Let’s seek to have his peace, as we trust that he is in control, and know that he is committed to us.
When we do, just like what happened with the outdoor service, we will be stronger. We will find deeper joy.