Step Up

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Judges 13:1-15; Acts 5:27-42; John 3:22-36

Peter is one of the most popular characters in the New Testament, probably because so many of us can relate to his struggles…his human nature…his faults.  He is fascinating.  I relate to his ups and downs, his highs and lows.

Just in the course of a few short chapters, we can see the highs and lows of ministry for Peter.  He drops his nets “no questions asked” to follow Jesus, and yet struggles to understand his role.  He denies his Lord three times, and yet inherits the keys of the kingdom, becoming in essence the first leader of the Church after Christ ascends to heaven.  One minute he is sinking under the waves, the next minute he is speaking like a champ.

Today we see Peter is all his glory.  He has really grown into himself.  In an event that almost seems like déjà vu, some of the Apostles now stand before the high priest being questioned.  Their accusations are similar to the ones Jesus had to deal with: “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man’s blood upon us.”

Peter ramps it up, claiming his authority in Christ Jesus: “We must obey God rather than any human authority.”  This, of course, is a violation of Jewish law, as the Sanhedrin is seen not as human authority, but an extension of God’s.

Peter has now come full circle.  Here is the one who questioned Paul and felt there needed to be a Jewish litmus test to enter into Christianity.  You can see his struggle, his testing, his fighting for the truth to come to full terms in his own life.

And it is a struggle.  Christianity is not an easy road.  Sometimes it means standing up for what is right when everyone else thinks it crazy.  Sometimes it means enduring hardship.  Sometimes it means speaking truth to power and sticking one’s neck out.  It is not an easy road.

But Jesus didn’t promise ease.  He said, “Take up your cross and follow me.”  He asks for none less.  He expects us to follow, even if that flies in the face of what is popular or cool.

He asks for – you guessed it – the truth.  And these days, the truth is not popular.  It requires things like finally admitting that our health care system in this country is broken.  It requires admitting we have a problem with poverty and human rights and sexual ethics.  It means, in short, that we are sinful creatures and that we have problems here.

It also means we need some help on this journey, and that we are called to speak like Peter, claim our own authority, and speak truth to power.   But we are not alone!  We stand with the One who came and died on a cross – the Savior of the World.  Now let’s do him proud.

Where in your life are you needing to claim your own authority and speak truth to power?  How can you be like Peter and STEP UP in faith?

-Matt

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