27 Apr In the hands of the Master Potter
Reflections from the life of the Apostle Peter
By Stephen Edison; AsiaCMS Regional Hub Manager – South Asia
We are lumps of clay in the hands of a master potter. When we submit our lives to Christ, His work of moulding and shaping us begins and continues throughout our lives
“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Mt.16:18)
When Simon was given the name Peter by Jesus there was little in his nature to associate with the stability, consistency and endurance of a rock. If we were to apply the parameters for selection of leaders of the church today based on Peters ‘CV’ recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, we find the picture of a man who was a natural-born leader and an outspoken disciple of Jesus with a personality that was aggressive, enthusiastic, self-confident, strong-willed and impulsive.
He recognised Jesus as the Christ (Mt.16:16), witnessed the transfiguration of Christ (17:1-3), assured Him that he would never deny Him (26:35), and then in a moment of weakness and fear did exactly that(26:69-75). Leading up to Jesus crucifixion, two disciples stood at a fork in the road; Simon Peter had denied him, and Judas Iscariot had betrayed him. Judas betrayal was led by his greed (Jn. 12:6) and perhaps disillusionment with his hope of a Messiah in the context of Israel’s suffering and Peter’s denial was in a moment of fear and weakness.
Jesus knew and foretold their denial and betrayal (Jn 13.21-26, 13:38). The difference was that only Peter repented and was restored into relationship with God. Repentance is what Satan discourages in our lives undermining Grace and creating perceptions that build on our natural tendency of ‘earning back’ Gods love and acceptance. At the core of Christ’s sacrifice was His love for us and His yearning for the restoration of a relationship, which was lost because of our sin.
We will all sin and fall short. Sin will have consequences, but grace earned at the Cross ensures our slates will be wiped clean when we truly repent. His work will continue in and through our lives. As God moulds and shapes us, it opens us to view the world through His eyes, beyond our familiar context and comfort zones.
As the Lord continued to mould and shape Peter, his perspective broadened, and he understood God’s plan of salvation included all creation and every nation. Peter was the first apostle, to overcome the barriers of his context and brought Gentiles into the Body of Christ (Acts10). He faced the circumcision party within the Jewish Christians, who insisted on Jewish traditions be requisite to be Christians (Acts 11).
It’s natural to hold on to the familiar and comfortable in our culture, denomination or traditions. We as His followers and His church need to view the world through Christ’s eyes. We may need from time to time review our contexts to reflect if we may be burdening those coming into faith with cultural baggage, in addition to the Truth, making their spiritual growth and feeling of belonging more challenging.
God has and will continue to do extraordinary things through ordinary lives, which are committed to Him.
As we read through Peter’s letter to the persecuted Christians across Asia Minor (1 Peter) we see the rock that Jesus foresaw. He shepherded the early church through some of its darkest times with faith, courage, wisdom and steadfastness not present when he first met Jesus. The years of walking with God, building on the gifts he had and leaning on God’s grace to overcome weaknesses and limitations had prepared Peter for what God had planned to accomplish in him and through him.
God can do the same in and through our lives as we walk with Him. Peter stood strong through the trials and tribulations of his time. Today across Asian countries we see common challenges. Over recent years, a growing feeling of marginalization among the majorities (ethnic and religious) and resulting majoritarian policies and political leaders catering to these feelings.
We also see rising fundamentalism, economic inequality and tensions between nations. Alongside ecological challenges, we also have an unexpected crisis like the ongoing Covid19 pandemic that is sweeping across the world. The church exists not in a vacuum but in the context of all these realities. We rest assured that through it all, God is in control. He will walk alongside us to be reflections of His light in challenging times.