No-one can expect to be told the whole truth. Do we know it, have we time to tell it? Asking, ‘How are you?’ often gets a quick comment, Fine, or OK, or terrible. It also depends on who’s asking and our relationship with that person we wonder how much the person really wants to know the whole truth or more importantly, how much do we want to tell a person
If asked are we a Christian, we need to remember a quote from Martin Luther:- We are not only responsible for what we say but also for what we do not say. When it comes to our relationship with God we are often defensive and rarely open.
The two things that struck me from the passage about Peter’s denial are one, why tell anyone they are going to fail and two depending on the circumstances do we change what we say about our beliefs. Leading on to us doing things we never intended to do.
Jesus had chosen his disciples to teach them God’s Word they were his witnesses taking his message to the world for all to know. His disciples had been traveling around with Jesus for maybe three years already aware a Messiah was due they had accordingly accepted Jesus. These were not priests, intellectuals, theologians or anyone who held power; seeing his miracles, hearing his teaching, and the uncomfortable truth he told they were convinced he was the Messiah they had been waiting for.
Jesus told them they will abandon him, how would it feel to be told your going to fail? Imagine the Coventry City football team were drawn against Chelsea in the FA cup. Which would the manager say to the team
We have no chance of winning so just enjoy the experience
Or well I expect we’ll lose and what’s more I expect you think will lose, indeed everyone thinks we will lose, but in a game anything can happen so we have to play our best and in trying to win we have our chance of winning.
If I was told I could climb Everest when I’m not able too or someone let me attempt it, saying nothing yet knowing I would fail, then they have done me no good, in fact he would have done me harm. However if told that I would fail in the attempt and I believed the person knew best, then I hope I would not attempt to do it or do some extra training for it. Were I to forget what was said, then in trying, prove the prediction right and fail then how would I feel towards the person who told me it would happen? Would I then accept the person knew my abilities and would respect them all the more?
So if we know what it going to happen should we always tell? If it will help them, then yes we should. Jesus knew his followers were going to run away. So why did he tell them? He knew they were going to be tested, and he would not be able to help them. He told them what they would do, then spent the whole evening teaching them, showing them he loved them, understood them and would forgive them which is backed up by him then telling them he will be meeting them afterwards
What we need to remember is that Peter was given a warning of what was to come, if he had just run away and deserted him like the others he would not have put himself in the position of having to deny Jesus. But no, he was not going to leave Jesus’ side and he was the only one to follow him at that time he showed his courage, his absolute commitment as his disciple.
How about this one, if I was told at some time I will deny Jesus! And I reply – No not I! I’m a follower of Jesus, he’s my Lord, The Son of God, I would never deny him! How true will that be? Well I don’t know, but I’m in a far better position than Peter was when he denied Jesus as I know he lives and I have the God’s Spirit within me. I want to always live and speak to witness my commitment to being a Christian but in some way I expect that by word or action, that Yes, I will deny Jesus, How will I do it? I expect by some sort of avoidance or simply not telling the whole truth.
Let’s go back to that quote from Martin Luther:- You are not only responsible for what you say but also for what you do not say.
Would a denial be simply not mentioning something? For example to the question, what did you do over the weekend? I could say, ‘Well I’m retired so I don’t really have weekends any more what did you get up to?’ That’s known as avoiding the question by asking a question?
Yet say the person is persistent and asks again, ‘You must have done something over the weekend surely?’ This time I say, Well I went on a nice long country walk. It’s true but it’s not the whole truth neither did it tell what’s important to me. In other words I didn’t really want to open up to this person and I was wasting an opportunity to witness my commitment to Jesus,
Let’s try again, Do anything interesting over the weekend? This time my reply is
fairly normal, went to church Sunday morning, the topic was on telling the truth. It was really interesting and made me think about what I should say to people. Truth may be uncomfortable at times, tell me what do think about telling the truth?
Going to church may be interesting to me, but why share it with other people? Well, when we become a Christian it’s part of our responsibility to do so; Jesus give his followers a job to do in the last verses of Matthew:- Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.
Telling people about our commitment to Jesus, allows them to know who we are, which in turn may open the door to further conversation, if it doesn’t it doesn’t matter for we would have planted a seed of Gods’ Word, this is how the early church grew, by being open to telling others about Jesus. If we isolate ourselves then the consequence will be our faith will not grow and neither will our churches because in effect we do what Peter did; deny Jesus, but unlike Peter we are not in any real danger if we say we’ve Christian.
What would be the possible outcome if we do talk openly about being a Christian? We may be thought old fashioned, yet in general Christians are liked. So what could non-Christians thinks about us. Very different things like; Christians are goodie goodies, who try to live by the 10 commandments, they are against the fun things in life and are very negative. Christians look down on everyone else as being sinners. There is no real difference between a Christian and anyone else.
The list goes on, A forgiving God is a crutch to enable people to get over their bad times, how can a book written 2000 years ago still be relevant? Christian believe they are right and not open to argument, they hate homosexuals, Jews, Muslims and all other religions. There is no truth, look at all the different churches telling their own version? Science has disproved the need for a God so nowadays people don’t need God. Christians have to forgive everyone everything and that is unrealistic. Christians have a low view of Woman and think themselves superior to others
Yet when people do talk to us, we often find they want to discuss their beliefs, saying I would like to know more about Christianity but I wouldn’t know who to talk to or I would like to go to a church but wouldn’t know what to do, I would like to know more about prayer but don’t know where to start, The Old Testament stories turned me off God, but I do think there could be a God. What happen when people die? What is the purpose of living? And I’m a good person so why if there is a loving God would he want to reject me?
Questions about people’s beliefs, mostly show someone is interested to know more, if asked a question then try to keep the answer simple, learn to be a listener. Get them doing the talking by asking a question in return, which shows we are open to discuss things and prepared to have a conversation. At the heart of all our answers would be, ‘I believe in God, his Word is truth’. However this is best to be revealed slowly in small steps and over time. By giving that simple straightforward answer and then asking a question since by asking questions it prompts a conversation, people want to talk, and in such a way trust and friendship grow then more questions are asked. Our task is to throw out seeds of interest the responsibility of acting on them is theirs
Not to answer questions truthfully could be seen as in effect denying Jesus, as Christians we need to be open and confident about our faith, so let’s prepare ourselves for these challenges that do come along by thinking of what a suitable reply might be to some of these questions:- What’s the point of becoming a Christian? What makes a Christian? What’s in it for me if I become a Christian? Do I have to go to church to be a Christian? Does prayer work? Why would I want to live by a set of old fashioned and out dated rules? What is life all about and what is the purpose in living? Why should I change my life to become a Christian when I’m happy as I am? If God loves us and is a good God why does he allow so much evil in the world?
We need to have answers for all these questions so let’s discuss them among ourselves so we can have answers ready and if there are any questions that need to be dealt with then bring it out.
It’s important in our growth as Followers of Jesus if we consider such questions and have some idea as to how we should answer them. Interestingly we can use the opportunity when not able to answer questions by going away and finding the answer then going back and telling the person what you have learnt.
But what we should all be prepared to answer is, Why are we Christian? What is it we believe and why do we believe what we do? We have a wondrous story to tell so we need to be prepared to tell it.