Best of Daily Reflections: Don’t Deny the Whole Grand Story
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” “No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.
Although I have heard the story of Easter every single year I have been alive, the grace of God still seems so mysterious in its sacrifice and unconditional reach. But, in all the curiosity of the cross, sometimes I forget to talk to others about the power of the resurrection and all that it means for our lives. Though I may not deny Christ, it sometimes feels challenging for me to represent the fullness of his story.
I do not believe I am alone.
The apostle Peter had questions and doubts of his own when Jesus, the man Peter had grown to love and trust, foretold his own death and resurrection. Peter was astounded that Jesus—the Messiah, and savior of the world—would die like a criminal. Even more, as Jesus predicted that the disciples would flee the scene in his hour of need, Peter proudly refused to accept that he, too, would flee. Jesus responded with a warning that Peter would not only flee, but would deny even knowing him on three different occasions. Peter of course said, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you” (Matthew 26:35).
As the story unfolds, Peter did exactly as Jesus foretold. Peter followed the crowds to the temple to see Jesus’ trial but, when recognized as a follower of Jesus, Peter denied knowing Jesus, three times.
I can appreciate Peter’s initial response. Whether in disbelief or simply refusing to think Jesus would die this way, Peter wanted to be proud of a Messiah who rode away on a white horse, after slaying his enemies and establishing his kingdom. But we know Jesus is a Messiah of a whole different kind.
When friends, colleagues, peers, or coworkers ask us about the God we love, maybe it feels easier to tell about a God who is similar to Santa Claus, giving us whatever we want, if we just claim it in his name. Or, maybe we want to share that God never offers us correction or that he always feels good, because it is easier to convince someone to follow a god that always makes life feel good.
When sharing with our coworkers and friends, the trouble with a shallow interpretation of God is that it denies parts of God that make him the definition of love, both when it feels good and when it doesn’t. It makes him the giver of lots of expensive toys, but not the Creator God who gives us what we need, and not always what we want. We join Peter in some kind of denial and miss the whole grand story of God’s grace for us all.
The story does not end there, gratefully. Jesus’ eyes meet Peter’s after the third denial and in knowing intimacy, Jesus gives Peter a look of love and grace. In our own denials, Jesus looks at us in the same way. The cross is a mystery, but the grace it gives us is tangible and real. Jesus’ love and grace then empower us to represent him to the fullest, knowing that in all things, he is good.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What parts of God’s character are hard for me to believe and consequently, hard for me to share with others? How can I be honest about my faith, despite still having questions in light of the mystery of God? In what ways do I experience Jesus’ grace and love, even in the areas I don’t understand?
PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for the life you gave us on the cross, that we might know you more completely. Give us deeper understanding of who you are, in all your mystery, that we might better reflect who you are to those around us. Be with us as we share with others, being grateful for all you are and all that you have done. Amen.
How to Share Your Faith at Work
Let’s admit it: It can be awkward to share our faith at work. The fear of damaging relationships and making the workplace that much more difficult (we do, after all, have to deal with these people on a daily basis). The fear of repercussions from those we work for. The fear of coming across as, well, just weird. In the stories found in the series, How to Share Your Faith at Work, we find practical ways to naturally share with people the thing that is most precious in our lives – our relationship with Jesus Christ.