Summary: Discovering the REAL Christmas begins with REALationship. Though Simon Peter does not meet the Christ Child until thirty years after his birth, Peter is still a powerful illustration of REALationship.
Pretend Santas, imitation smells, counterfeit presents, simulated smiles, artificial trees, fake snow...how is it that we’ve turned the Christmas season into everything but something real?
It appears to me that most of what is foisted upon us during the holiday’s is anything but real.
As we prepare for the celebration of Advent – Christ’s Coming - I want us to rediscover the REAL Christmas. I want us to find something substantial while much of our society is selling illusion.
This morning I want to start our search for the Real Christmas with a man that is actually not in the Christmas story at all. In fact, Peter doesn’t even meet the Christ Child until thirty years after His birth and then it’s along a lake shore in Northern Galilee, not a stable in Southern Judea.
I want to start with Simon Peter because he is probably the best illustration we can find to explain the purpose of Jesus Christ coming in the first place. Jesus came for relationship...REALationship.
The real gift I want to present to you this Christmas season is REALationship. Our relationship with Jesus Christ, with God can be real. Another way to say that is this...
God doesn’t expect you to be perfect; He only expects you to be real, authentic and willing to take the next step with Him.
It’s not our work to be perfect, that’s God’s work. Our part is to be honest, open and real with God. His part is to complete His purpose in us. It’s God’s work to perfect us!
The real story of Christmas is that a perfect, holy God came to a messed up world filled with messed up people and offered them REALationship with Himself!
Have you ever thought of yourself as messed up? I know I’m a mess, how about you? There’s a lot of stuff in my life that needs fixing; at times it gets pretty discouraging. I blow up at my kids or my wife. I envy what others have that I can’t seem to obtain. I get tired. I over spend. My mind, my thoughts head in directions I hate. I mean, even when things are going really good and I think I’m on top of everything – sometimes I disappoint myself. Do you ever feel like that?
How is it that a perfect, powerful God wants to have REALationship with messed up people like us?
Simon Peter illustrations that REALationship better than anyone I know – other than you and me!
Simon is not what we would expect from a “Church Leader”, a major Christ follower. He messes up a lot. He’s way up and then he’s way down. One minute he’s sticking his neck out for God and the next he’s cowering under a little girl’s name calling. Peter’s about as far from perfect as they get and yet He was passionately and deeply loved, accepted and guided by Jesus Christ – even in his biggest mess-ups.
The story of Simon Peter in the Bible begins along a sea shore in the Gospel of Matthew and ends in a little letter tucked near the end of the New Testament called “Second Peter”. From beginning to end three powerful truths about REALationship keep shining through, the first is this:
LITTLE DECISIONS ADD UP TO BIG REALATIONSHIPS.
Mike Yaconelli, in his little book, Messy Spirituality writes, “Spirituality is about doing the tiny work of God, little acts, small responses to God’s presence in our lives. Every week, my church shows me heroic acts by ordinary people who never will be recognized.” (pg.109)
Simon Peter’s story begins while he and his brother are net fishing along the Sea of Galilee. It couldn’t have been all that exciting, throw it in...pull it out...throw it in...pull it out... Then, along comes a dynamic man who offers him a promotion, “Come, be my follower, and I will show you how to fish for people.” (Matthew 4:19).
I don’t think it was much of a decision. Sure we make a big deal out of Peter’s stepping away from his nets to follow Jesus being the beginning of something huge, but at the time I don’t think it was a huge decision for Peter, just something, a small step.
But, fast forward ten chapters and in Matthew 14 we see Peter taking a different kind of step. This time he’s in a boat in the middle of the night in the middle of lake. Peter and his fellowship Christ followers are scared, fearing for their lives because a sudden storm is threatening the stability of their little boat. Then, in the distance that see something, someone, walking across the water toward them. They think it’s a ghost, it looks like Jesus. Then they hear His voice, “It’s all right...I am here. Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27)