Thursday, September 15, 2011

SEPTEMBER 15 "WE ARE STILL SO FLAWED"

     NO matter how far we think we have come as a Christian, if God is at work in your life (and I hope He is), He will always be faithful, from time to time, to remind you that you have not yet arrived.  Paul just a few verses prior has just referred to Peter twice and mentions God working through Peter's ministry and mentions Peter  as one of "those reputed to be pillars".  In another text he refers to Peter as a "super apostle". NO doubt, Peter is THE MAN!  For all the shame Peter had to endure when he forsook Christ, he has definitely made up for it with all the recognition, authority, influence and power he now holds. However, even with all that going for Peter, he is still a flawed vessel.  He is still a man who at times allows others to dictate his actions rather than Christ. He is still a man who cares what others think of him.  He is still a man who struggles with prejudices and dealing with inconsistencies in his walk with Christ. Does this sound like you? If it does, then good, we are on the right track.
     Thank God for faithful brothers who step up to the plate to rebuke us when we need it. We see way to little of this today in our relationships. Our relationships are superficial at best and hypocritical at worse. Men and Women are floundering and nobody is there to let them know. The worse thing Paul could have done is let Peter get a way with his hypocrisy. Paul could have pretended like he didn't notice Peter get up and walk away from the Gentile Christians when James arrived.  It would have been much easier to let Peter's actions go unnoticed. "Why make a scene?"  "What difference will it make if I do say something?" "Who am I to correct the great Peter?"  If Paul is human, which we know he was, then he struggled with all these thoughts.  Perhaps we need not concentrate so much on "what difference will it make if I do say something" as much as we should concentrate on the responsibility you and I have to speak out and leave the results with that individual and God.  Give God something to work with! It is not our job to be the Holy Spirit Police, running around rebuking everyone, but there are key moments when we know we ought to speak up and say something and most often we don't and that individual then continues on in their behaviour not thinking anyone notices or cares or even further convinces themselves that their conduct is not that bad, after all, if it is so bad why doesn't God or anybody correct me? Doesn't anybody see or anybody hear? Yes, they do see and hear it is simply they won't speak up, they don't care. We selfishly avoid the confrontation to preserve our own selves at the detriment of somebody else. Is this right?
     One thing for sure we can learn from this is we are all flawed vessels no mater who we are and no matter how long we've been saved. We should realize there is always room for growth, enlargement and character to be formed in us as long as we are breathing. We should be changing from day to day, from Glory to Glory in the image of Christ. Thank God for the brother or sister who risks all to let us know, our behaviour, our conduct is not in line with one who claims to be a follower of Christ.  We unfortunately never read about how Peter responded to this rebuke he received from Paul in front of the others. I'm sure it was quite embarrassing, but I am going to assume Peter took it well and was grateful to Paul for calling him on it. A Godly man will always except "due" criticism and thank those who dared to correct them. We must be both those that are willing to step up and rebuke when it is due and we must also be the ones that are also willing to accept rebuke and correction when it comes our way;  be grateful for those it comes from and not become resentful, (who do they think they are!) but rather thank God and thank them for not allowing you to continue in your hypocrisy, in your prejudices, in your temper tantrums, in your dishonesty, in your unchristian like conduct.
     No doubt, we are all flawed vessels and until the day we die,  we will always be in need of fine tuning and adjustment and (not to sound redundant) we ought always to be grateful when it comes our way because most often, people don't care and won't speak up, thence we do not have the opportunity to change because people are no longer willing to speak up, at the risk of helping others. We would rather keep silent, preserve ourselves and simply let others self destruct or continue in their demise and this is a sad state of affairs in the Church today.  Does not the scripture say, "as iron sharpens iron so does man sharpen man". Does that still apply to today? Let us not neglect the ministry that we are all called to and that is to exhort one another, encourage one another and to correct one another. These are timeless principles founded in God's word and have been put there for the edifying and the building up of the Saints in the church.  "Lord, send people, friends are way, that will lovingly speak the truth to us".  "For deceitful are the kisses of an enemy but faithful are the wounds of a friend!"