Summary: No one drifts to intimacy. In fact, what we do is drift to distance. The problem is that distance is dangerous.
The Danger of Distance
In huge bright red or perhaps caution yellow letters it is right there in front of your windshield it says, "Stay back 200 ft.!" The insinuation is that if you tailgate or follow at any closer distance you are putting yourself in a dangerous position. For the health of your car and your physical body it is best to hang back and keep your distance. You have seen them. You have ignored them. We are instructed to keep distance to avoid danger and still we get as close as we can (and I won't even deal with blaming them for the problem we create). So in this instance we are told too close and we will suffer the consequences and still we remain 6 inches off the bumper (maybe this is just me). Ironically, then, when dealing with God we are told there is danger in staying too far away and we refuse to get any closer. We fail to recognize the danger of distance. Today I want to challenge you to do some distance deliberation.
In the 3 years of Jesus' high profile, publicized, miraculous ministry there was a constant. Always there. Right in the middle of it. On the scene. In the mix. Often called the chief disciple. Always mentioned first when disciples are listed. The rock. Water walker. The one who recognizes Christ as the Son of the Living God. He seems to be under Jesus' feet at every turn. Quick to debate. Quick to defend. Quick to deny. Wait that last statement doesn't seem to fit. It seems out of place. How can someone so committed. So sold out. So loyal end up denying Christ? I would submit to you that Peter experiences and teaches us about the danger of distance.
They led Jesus to the Chief Priest, where the high priests, religious leaders, and scholars had gathered together. Peter followed at a safe distance until they got to the Chief Priest’s courtyard, where he mingled with the servants and warmed himself at the fire.
Mark 14:54 Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.
Mark 14:69-71 The maid saw him standing there and began telling the others, “There he is! There’s that disciple of Jesus!” Peter denied it again. A little later others standing around the fire began saying to Peter, “You are, too, one of them, for you are from Galilee!” He began to curse and swear. “I don’t even know this fellow you are talking about,” he said.
1. If we are not careful we will allow lack of miracles to distance us.
Peter distanced himself when the miracles stopped.
I can guarantee you that if Jesus had flexed his miracle muscles on Pilate’s steps or while hanging on the cross, then Peter would have run to the front of the crowd. "I told you so. That's my boy!" You know why I can guarantee this? Go look at how close Peter is when Jesus is displaying power prior to this day. He is stuck like glue! But there was no flex, no other wordly display, no rush of angels, and no God show. And since there was no miracle . . . distance.
What about you? What if the miracle you so desperately believe and long for is slow coming or there is no indication that it is coming at all? When Jesus didn't take the desired action or follow Peter's plan Peter stayed at a safe distance. Some of us base our loyalty on His action. That is following at a safe distance.
2. If we are not careful we will distance ourselves in pursuit of comfort!
Peter distanced himself to comfort.
I must remind you that Jesus is not really interested in making you comfortable. He is committed to your character. Jesus was constantly making people uncomfortable. He rattled their cage, jerked their chains, and challenged them to change. However, what Peter did and what we continue to do is distance ourselves to a level of comfort!
Peter distanced himself to fit in. It is amazing how much like Jesus we look . . . in church. But when the crowd changes we change. For some it is a subtle change . . . what you wouldn't laugh at in here or what you would shake a condescending finger at in here suddenly becomes acceptable and even funny out there. For some it isn't subtle at all. The change is complete. The conversation is altered completely. Fan in here a distant follower out there! You are on fire in here but by the fire out there. Safe distance is what you are looking for and trying to find.