Summary: Many Christians suffer from the disorder of two personalities - we want to follow Christ but we aren't willing to pay the price
The Paradox of two Personalities
I would like to focus this morning on one verse
23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Last week we saw Jesus calling Peter the Rock on which He would build his Church.
This week we see the opposite.
Peter the Rock has now become now become a Stumbling Stone
As I was preparing I wondered how is this possible and I recalled some words of St Paul in Romans 7:19:
For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing.
As a Christian I find myself almost split in two personalities.
I want to do the will of God yet I find myself not doing it.
One thing I like about the Bible is the honesty we find in it.
I can identify with Peter the Great apostle.
On the one hand he wants to genuinely follow Jesus and on the other hand his human nature lets him down.
When the cock crowed twice – Peter’s human nature had won. He had denied his Master before the serving girl of the High Priest and twice further.
Yet in early part of Acts, the godly Peter comes out as he fearlessly preaches the Gospel in front of the High Priest and the Sanhedrin
Keith Green, the late husband of Melody Green who wrote the hymn: “There is a Redeemer” once said this:
“Going to Church no more makes you a Christian than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger”
What makes you a Christian is the desire to FOLLOW Jesus.
So what exactly does following Christ entail?
There are a number of things but I would like just to look at two
1. Putting the things of God ahead of our desires and
Let’s look at the first
1. Putting the things of God ahead of our own personal desires
Sounds good doesn’t it – but what exactly does that mean?
There is certainly something of self-denial there.
Being a Christian is not easy, because we adopt standards that are not this world’s standards.
Story: There was a vicar two years ago who hit the national press when he advocated that if people are poor they should steal from the supermarkets.
But that is not following Christ because it breaks the 8th commandment:
“Thou shallt not steal” (Ex 20:15)
It can cost us to follow Christ and to do what is right.
The second action I believe following Christ entails is prayer. Because prayer is talking with God.
And the Christian faith is all about RELATIONSHIPS
Jesus prayed a lot.
We read in Mark how Jesus prays in a Solitary Place
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35
Prayer requires a lot of commitment
There are two types of prayer that I think we can get a handle on.
The first is simple prayer and the second is prayer of the ordinary
1. Simple Prayer
Strange title – what is simple prayer.
Dom Chapman summed it up well when he said: “Pray as you can, not as you can’t”
Many people think you can’t pray until you have the right MOTIVATION and SERIOUS and IMPORTANT THINGS to trouble God about.
But simple prayer is childlike prayer
We all come to God with mixed motives
As Richard Foster puts it
“The Truth of the matter is, we all come to prayer with a tangled mass of motives – altruistic and selfish, merciful and hateful, loving and bitter. Frankly this side of eternity we will never unravel the good from the bad…”
For me that was a real eye opener – because God loves us because we are his children. He knows our motives – we can’t kid him – and all he wants us to do is to come to him!!
Simple prayer is talking to God as we might our best friend
Foster gives good advice:
Don’t give up praying because you are struggling with evil, anger hurt etc. Rather pray while you are struggling with evil.
Simple prayer can also be self-centred prayer – a conversation of the heart.
Foster writes this:
In the beginning we are indeed the subject and centre of our prayers. But in God’s time and in God’s way a “Copernican revolution takes place. Slowly, almost imperceptibly there is a shift in our centre of gravity. We pass from thinking of God as part of our life to the realisation that we are part of his life.”