Saturday, April 6, 2013

Posted by Erin Posted on 11:58 AM | 1 comment

Chosen Series: Part 9

Yes. What a glorious truth that Peter and you and I are chosen by the God of the universe. He doesn't ask us to get it together first or even wait for us to ask to be chosen. He just chooses us and loves us.

This is maybe one of my favorite lessons that I have gained from Peter's life, that the very thing that appears to be his character flaw, once he comes alive in the reality that he is wanted by Christ, becomes the very thing that is most useful to the Kingdom of God. What do I mean? Well, I'm glad you asked.

A couple of years ago, I was preparing to go to India with a team of amazing people from Houston. We were serving with a ministry called As Our Own and we would be teaching girls about the life of Peter. I was set to teach the last day on the topic of Peter and the Holy Spirit...in a 40 minute lesson...which was really a 20 minute lesson because of the need for translation. No big deal right? Well, I was a little terrified about boiling all of Peter and the Holy Spirit down so much into a relevant, short lesson for little girls who didn't speak English. But, as I prepared, the Holy Spirit was up to something that would change me, and hopefully those sweet girls forever. Before my lesson, other team members had taught on Peter's name change, on his experience with walking on water, and about the time he cut off a guard's ear and told Jesus, "No!". And as I studied those stories along with the rest of Peter's life, I saw a common theme: boldness. The man was bold. And after being filled with the Spirit, after the moment on the beach when he realized he was chosen despite his character flaws, he was still bold. So what was different? Peter's personality didn't change. He was bold from the start.

Attempting to walk on water? Bold. Cutting off a dude's ear? Bold. Telling Jesus, "No." Bold. Stupid. Messy. Selfish. But, without a doubt, bold. But then....then Jesus died. And rose. Conquered death. And Jesus sent the Holy Spirit. His disciples all together, waiting. Suddenly met with the roar of a tornado and fireballs that looked like tongues. Woah. That is bound to change things. So what happened next. The disciples stood and began to speak in other languages. And as the crowd ridiculed them calling them drunk, Peter, true to form, did something bold. Only this time, he didn't lunge at the crown threatening to cut off ears or noses or tongues. He did curse at them or fight them. He began to speak over the noise of the crowd. Not hurling defensive remarks, but silencing the mockers with truth. Peter preached. He spoke boldly of Christ and fulfilled prophecy. And as a result of his boldness, 3,000 people became believers that day.

Bold before. Bold after. Only, before, Peter's boldness was selfish, messy, stupid. Then the Holy Spirit came and filled Peter. And that same boldness that had caused so many injuries to himself and to others, became useful for the Kingdom. It was a boldness that healed. A boldness that shined with eternal purpose. God had created Peter with a boldness from the beginning. As He knit Peter together in His mother's womb, God intricately wove a tight-knit, scratchy burlap fabric of humanity and called it Peter. And then God put of flesh of His own and came to earth and as He, Jesus, began His ministry, He called this burlap Peter to join Him. And Jesus patiently pointed out the ignorance and selfishness of Peter's boldness over and over. And then, Jesus conquered death, saving Peter from his selfishness and redeeming Peter's boldness. Jesus left so He could send the Helper, who could fill Peter from the depths of his soul and turn the boldness from self-centered to Kingdom centered.

You and I have it to. That personality trait that feels so very much like a flaw. It seems to only cause injury to ourselves. To others. And we are assured it is in fact a flaw because others have told us as much. Perhaps you are too loud. Too hyper. Too shy. Too trusting. Too much something. For me, it is my sensitivity. I cry. Oceans. I feel. Deeply. I am wounded easily. The pain of injustice rips through me like a hurricane. I was told more than once as a child that I was too sensitive, that the things that bothered me shouldn't. I was told to suck it up. Be tougher. Don't cry so much. And I was praised when I "got over it" so quickly. I learned to cry for a little and then move on like nothing was wrong. I learned to hate my sensitivity. To see it as a horrendous flaw. And then, in His grace, God sent me to India and gave me the task of teaching on Peter and the Holy Spirit. And in His grace, He unraveled some of the mystery of scripture for me. And I saw it. The truth about the sensitivity I'd been born with. It was given to me on purpose. It was not a horrifying blemish. It was a beauty mark given to me for the glory of God. When I am walking in my flesh, that sensitive spirit is gross. It is selfish. Injustices against me...my laws set it off. I cry over my hurt feeling, over not getting my own way. It's messy, like Peter's boldness. But...when I walking in the Spirit...filled from the depths by the Helper, that same sensitivity has Kingdom-purpose. My heart breaks over the wrongs done to others. I cry over the things that wound the heart of God. I am compassionate toward the hurting. I don't believe God ever intended for me to "get over" injustices. I don't think he wants me to cry for a little and move on like I never felt the sting of wrong-doing. Quite the opposite.

Genesis 1:27 tells us that we all were created in the image of God. I don't pretend to understand the fullness of what that means. But, I believe that part of it is that in each of us, God has placed a tiny drop of His own personality. Apart from Him, we use it to build our Babel. Our tower of self worth that never stands once the winds come. But when we allow Him to envelope us, that trait causes the world to see Him. We move from being a one-man failing construction crew to being a part of a Kingdom. All building together...building a city that cannot be shaken. And when your "flaws" become your "faith", you find a joy and a freedom like you've never known.

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Questions for today:
1. What is your "boldness"?
2. Have you believed the lies that your personality is a flaw?
3. What do you think that flaw would look like when it is redeemed and filled by the Holy Spirit?

Happy Journey!
Erin