Have you ever said something in your passion that just totally came out wrong? In your head the thought felt supportive and brilliant but somehow when it was released into the world it was completely different. I bet that’s how Peter felt in Matthew 16:22 when he said, “never Lord! This shall never happen to you.” As Peter listened to Jesus tell him about the persecution and hardship he was about to face it must’ve been inconceivable to think that the man who could calm a storm, raise the dead, and change the molecular structure of water could ever be punished.
Peter probably thought Jesus was having a bad day and being hard on himself. He did what we all do for our friends. He tried to encourage him. He thought he was saying, “Chin up Jesus. It’s not that bad. You can wipe the floor with anyone. Ten thousand angels are at your disposal. Quit worrying. You’ve got this.” Instead He was saying, “Jesus you can avoid all of the pain. You’re God and no one can treat you poorly. You don’t have to do this. Stay safe.”
Jesus’ response must have been so confusing to Peter. I’m sure he had fond memories of the way Jesus responded to his proclamation of faith in Matthew 16:16 and expected more of the same. He’d just recently been given the keys to the kingdom of heaven. In this situation, Instead of getting a fist bump, Peter got ridiculed and was now being called the devil himself. He quickly went from solid rock to stumbling block.
Maybe you can identify. You’ve become inspired by something you’ve read in scripture, heard from a sermon, or discovered through prayer and discussion and have decided to take a risk in the name of faith. You go to a friend who’s been an encouragement in the past and share your dream. You expect to hear, “that’s awesome” but instead hear, “that’s insane.” A bucket of water was tossed on your flame. You were sure just a second ago and now you have doubts. Maybe they’re right. Maybe you should just keep your head down, sit in your pew, and let someone else be the light of the world.
Maybe you’ve been that voice. Maybe you’ve been hurt doing just the thing another Christian brother or sister is dreaming of doing and you want to spare them the emotional pain. The world is a dangerous place and people get killed sharing the gospel. It’s in our nature to protect and defend, especially when the person taking a risk is a person we care deeply about. We’ve become really good at critiquing other people’s dreams haven’t we? Sometimes I’m afraid we’re the spiritual equivalent of an armchair quarterback.
Think about this. We aren’t called to be in church we’re called to be the church. When we cease to be the church, or worse, keep others from being the church we become a stumbling block to their faith By dying on the cross Jesus not only bought forgiveness for his people he also replicated himself in the lives of everyone who would call on his name. We are called to embody his mission to seek and save the lost and we aren’t going to do that while sitting safely in our pews. How can you encourage someone to pursue his or her vision of sharing Christ with the world even if it feels unsafe?
How can you be their rock? How can you help them think through the pitfalls without becoming one?I’d like to challenge you. Would you be willing to meet with someone in your church and ask him or her how God is using them or how they’d like to participate in changing the world? Would you be willing to encourage them in their dream? Would you be willing to help them find someone else with a similar passion or possibly walk with them on their journey? Would you decide today to be a solid rock and not a stumbling block?