Summary: This is about total commitment to Christ.
I am sure you have seen that wonderful bumper sticker that says something to the effect, “Whoever dies with the most toys wins.” It seems that is the way many people think about life. The chief goal in life for many people is comfort and luxury. Many of the “poor” in the United States have TV’s, air conditioning and other amenities that were once considered luxuries. This especially struck me last summer, as Elise, a Haitian woman who works at the seminary in Haiti, asked our work and witness team for old cans and bacon grease. She used the big cans to take her shower by poking holes in the bottom. She used the others to cook with. She used the bacon grease to cook her food. It’s amazing how your perspective changes on what is important in life when you see people struggling for something we take for granted, or consider trash.
This life is like a Monopoly game. Who likes Monopoly? I hate it. I used to play Monopoly with my mom all the time. The problem is that we both liked to win so much that we got mad at each other after the game. But, life is like Monopoly. You strive throughout the game to acquire property and money. One person usually winds up with all the property and money, hence the name “Monopoly.” When the game is over and the winner is gloating about his conquest of his real estate empire, the money and cards go back in the box and everyone is the same. It doesn’t matter who wins the Monopoly game. It doesn’t matter who ends this life with most toys, because when this life is over, the toys and money we accumulate here are as worthless as Monopoly money.
Turn with me to Mark 8.
Read Mark 8:31-38.
Sometimes temptations come from unexpected places. Sometimes unwittingly a loved one will throw temptation our way.
Last week, we talked about Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. The gist of that temptation was to abort his mission. He was tempted to avoid the pain and anguish of the Cross. He was tempted to give up and not go through with it. He overcame that temptation with the help of God.
Here we see Peter bringing up that same temptation. Jesus had been making veiled references to the Cross, but this is the first time he came right out and said what was going to happen to him. “He said this plainly,” verse 32 tells us. He said that he would suffer, be rejected, killed, and rise again. Perhaps the part about rising again was obscured by the emotion stirred up talking about his death. Peter scolded Jesus, the way we may scold a child who has done something wrong. Peter was misguided in his attack. I have heard many people criticize Peter for this action, because he was so misguided. The thing we have to remember is that the expectation of the Christ, or Messiah, was not one who would suffer and die. In verse 29 of chapter 8, Peter says to Jesus, “You are the Christ.” He understood Jesus was the Christ. Christ and Messiah mean the same thing.
What Peter is telling Jesus here is, “Hey, wait a minute, buddy. You’ve got it all wrong. The Christ is supposed to be a conquering hero, not a someone who will be rejected and put to death.” Peter loved Jesus, and he wanted to make sure he was on the right track. He didn’t want to see Jesus miss the opportunity to be the Savior of the nation of Israel. Peter is telling Jesus to play it safe. That is one of the biggest temptations we face. Playing it safe.
When we decided to move here, it was a huge step. I had thoughts like, “What if I fail?” “What about the kids? Will Victoria make new friends?” “Will she make it in school?” There were all these thoughts. They are all valid concerns. My family is extremely important to me. Most people I knew were very supportive, but there were a few who said things like, “Are you sure this is the right thing?” My thoughts and the questions of others were valid points, but the reality is that God had called me. I couldn’t deny that. I had to put those temptations to play it safe out of my mind. I understood the task ahead of me. I understood that the people who had concerns were looking out for my best interest. It is nice to know that people care. I appreciated their concern, but the fact is that their concern and advice was temptation to go against the will of God for my life.
We cannot be tempted to play it safe. God is with us. God will take care of us. Jesus confronted the temptation by informing Peter that God’s way is better than our way. “You are not setting your mind on the things of God, but the things of man,” Jesus replied. Our response to “good” advice should always be, “We have the things of God in mind.”