I am a rather straightforward person, so they say. Probably too much so. And therefore I really, really dislike the passive-aggressive junk that goes on in the American Church.
Everyone’s trying to be so nice, they sometimes aren’t honest. Frankly, I’d rather have you say to my face what you don’t like – then to smile at me and say it behind my back. Or not to say it at all.
How’s that going to help me improve?
I love Jesus’ example with Peter.
After Peter said “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” Jesus responds, “Blessed are you…. For flesh and blond has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16: 16-17)
Not 6 verses later (and probably not very much later in actual time), Jesus explained how He will soon die. Then…
…Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But [Jesus] turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Matthew 16: 22-33
Wow. Jesus didn’t mince words!!
One minute, Peter is listening to God (and not his own flesh)
And the next minute (so it feels), Peter is Satan himself (with his mind set on the things of man).
I’m guessing Peter kept his mouth shut for a while…*
What I love about this passage is that Jesus was so forthright. Did Peter walk away and quit the Disciples? Did he pitch a fit? Did he think, “This guy is so abusive, I need to stop following him around?”
I don’t think so.
I imagine Peter learned something from that incident. And I imagine he still knew that Jesus loved him and was speaking with Peter’s good and His Father’s glory in mind.
Frankly, I like that kind of frankness.
I wish we practiced it better in the church.
Dear Lord: Thank you for using people, circumstances, and the Bible to point out when I am acting like Peter. Help me to be as wisely and lovingly frank as You were with him. Amen.
* Until he opened it again 9 chapters later to say he’d die with Jesus – that was before the cock crowing incident…