Thank you Simon Peter!
It's not the search for the holy grail. I mean, the biblical commands about following Christ aren't hidden somewhere in the cracks and crevices of the deep. Just the same, they aren't complicated word treasures requiring translation of ancient hieroglyphics or word pictures. Jesus spoke them himself to simple Galilean fishermen, brothers Simon Peter and Andrew. Matthew recorded them in the language of the day, koine Greek. Jesus said, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4: 18, ESV). They left their nets and followed him. Much of the New Testament Gospels record the details of how they followed him. Christian history attests to the depths of their commitment and passion. Both were later crucified as a result of being his disciples. They both grasped the urgency of following Christ in their day. Many of us wonder if that kind of obedience is required of those who follow Christ today. What does it mean to follow Christ in these contemporary times?
Before his death Peter is remembered also as the author of two New Testament Epistles, 1 and 2 Peter. One of his thoughts strikes me as relevant when considering the ideal of following Christ. Of course, Scripture is thought to be eternal and lasting truth for life. Peter himself wrote about the enduring Word of God---
For “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers,
and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the
good news that was preached to you.
1 Peter 1: 24-25, ESV
Then he wrote these memorable words about following Christ.
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an
example that you might follow in his steps.
1 Peter 2: 21, ESV
Simon Peter understood that the basic Christian calling was to follow the example of Jesus even if suffering was the ordeal of the day. And, of course, that has been the calling of many believers in history, to suffer or even experience death to fulfill this calling. It certainly meant that for Simon Peter, who is remembered as dying on a cross upside down because of his unworthiness to die as Christ had died.
Exponential times are a question mark for the human species right now. Before 2020 these were times marked by complexity, velocity, mobility, and anonymity. Modern technology has ushered us into the era of speed and movement, the perplexing world of algorithms and scientific engineering. Social media has given us new hiding places and the ability to communicate with anonymous systems. Then there is 2020, the universal pandemic---isolation, government intervention into our daily lives, protective measures, and widespread fear. Oh yes, and don;t forget Election 2020 and the divergence of political thought, religious restrictions, and change at a national scale. What does it mean to live the Christian life in such a challenging world, under the scrutiny of political adversaries with little reverence for Constitutional rights or freedoms? How can we live the essentials of our faith in such questionable times?
It's not so complicated. People of faith should live just as Simon Peter wrote to the people living in the demanding days after the death of Jesus. We're to "...follow in his steps" because he left us an example. That will be the stuff of Finish Period this week. Join me as we discuss the steps of Jesus in this space.
And, thank you Simon Peter for giving us this guidance in living the Christian life today.
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