Friday, March 25, 2011

40 Days of Lint, Day Fifteen: In the Courtyard of Denial

She used to boast how impressed everyone was that she could go to parties and not drink or do drugs. “I’m showing them I can have fun without doing what they do,” she said. “I can be a witness by hanging out with people like Jesus did.”

I tried to point out that when Jesus showed up at a party everything changed. People were drawn to Him and hungered to hear His stories about God’s love. They realized they were sinners and wanted to know how they could be forgiven. Jesus didn’t blend in; He stood out. That’s where we so often make our mistake – we want to fit in.

Peter was one of Jesus’ closest disciples and loved Him dearly. Yet on the very same day he vowed he would die for Christ, Peter ended up denying he even knew Him.

“…seizing [Jesus], they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, ‘This man was with him.’

"But he denied it. ‘Woman, I don’t know him,’ he said…

"The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:54-57, 61-62).

Concerned for his Master’s welfare, Peter followed at a distance. However, out of self-preservation, he tried to blend in. Pretty soon the night chill forced him closer to the fire. Soon, he warmed himself by the fire in the middle of the courtyard with the others. Exactly what happens to us in our desire for acceptance.

My young friend who boasted about her witness at parties is now an alcoholic, floundering in the misery of an addiction she brought on herself. The passionate faith she once claimed has cooled to being “religious.” Her lifestyle denies the One she vowed to love and cherish. She avoids Jesus’ loving look, who longs for her to repent and enjoy intimacy with Him once again. I pray daily that she will return to her Lord and Savior as Peter did.

What about you? Have you been following Jesus at a distance, fearing what might happen if you get too close? Do you find yourself sitting mutely at the fire while others mock Jesus and His message? If so, it’s time to run. Seek His forgiveness. He’s looking at you now to draw you back. He will welcome you with love and make you new by His Spirit.

That’s what happened to Peter. He went from denying he even knew Jesus, to preaching a powerful sermon where 3,000 people got saved (See Acts 2)! What made the difference? At the fire, Peter was trying to follow Jesus in his own strength, and fear took him down. But after the resurrection he was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit that enabled him to be bold about his faith. We can be His witnesses, but not with our own strength.
Lint Removed: Warming by the Enemy Fire
Cleaning Process: Be Filled With the Spirit

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