Sentinels For Christ :: Power In The Grey

Power In The Grey

Posted by jimgrier on July 13, 2018

Peter & Power in The Grey!  

            As we grow through life, it becomes clear that the world isn’t as black and white as we used to think when we were younger.  More and more we learn that life is full of grey.  It is so hard to navigate those complex times.  Questions of wondering what God’s will is for us, or asking where His presence is, wanting answers when silence is more pronounced, and hoping for the best are common desires as we reside in the unclear.

Just like us, characters in Scripture navigated their grey areas with the luxury of history and hindsight it was easy to see how God addressed their various challenges of faith.  As we sit in our grey we wonder what they did to navigate it or wonder why God seemed more evident in how He guided them through grey.  As a result, sometimes we run this lap of the race well, and other times we didn’t run that lap of the race well.

One such person who ran the race with his share of greys was Peter, who was so passionately black and white in his faith and how boldly he followed Jesus.  It’s such an admirable quality that we can learn so much from.  After the Last Supper, Jesus predicted Peter’s denial and Peter emphatically contested Jesus.  Could you imagine being in Peter’s seat?  Imagine getting to have sacred communion with Jesus and the apostles.  To partake in being told to take in remembrance of Him and be told there was a traitor in the midst.  Wondering who it could be, then being told that you will deny Christ.  I wonder if Peter wondered if he was the traitor before Judas was revealed to be the one.  He must have experienced sorrow for Judas and relief that it wasn’t him who was the traitor.   Yet I would imagine Peter still being in a state of question, uncertainty, denial, anger and negotiation as it wasn’t a matter of “if” but of “when.”

Later as the Crucifixion neared, Peter awaited nearby and warmed his hands near a fire while Jesus was on trial with the Sanhedrin.  Little did he know the guilt to be thrown on Jesus would be put on him shortly after while warming his hands.  The first accusation came from a servant girl of the high priest.  Culturally this is so profound.  Culturally speaking at that time, she was the lowest of low that you could possibly be in that society.  She was a servant, and she was female, thus her credibility for such a comment would have been taken very lightly, if any were to be given at all due to her socioeconomic status.  Yet her words carried such power for Peter and he left into the entry way away from Jesus.  She accused him again, he denied again and retreated further.  Then the crowd that Peter mingled into identified him, Peter denied a third time and the rooster crowed a second time.  Jesus’s prophecy was completed.  While Scripture doesn’t say when the first crow occurred, but when it did, I wonder what went through Peter’s mind and what he felt as it turned out In the end, he was left broken and weeping.  

Some dynamics occur in this story that so many of us aren’t always aware of and other parts we can relate to.  First, it’s important to note that while the Sanhedrin agreed with many of Jesus’s teachings, their goal was to eliminate Christianity before it could grow to be more of a threat.  If they could take the head off the snake so to speak, the followers would disperse.  For Peter, he entered into an arena of judgment.  He didn’t know if Jesus was going to be guilty or innocent in their eyes so he was left in uncertainty.  So often when we are in the grey, an air of judgment can slowly creep in.  We start to wonder if we are being a good enough disciple or exercising skills enough or doing it right.  We look around and can slip into comparing ourselves and putting ourselves below others with where we want to be and putting ourselves above others to feel better about where we are now.  It’s a subtle and easy arena to walk into as Peter did.  What might it be for you?

Second, we can give the smallest thing so much power.  For Peter, it was the accusations of a servant girl of the high priest.  Her words carried enough influence and power for Peter to physically remove himself further away from Jesus’s presence and seek comfort in a crowd as he ran.  Even that didn't work and he denied a third time.  In the midst of the grey, we wander from God’s power and give it to someone or something else.  Some of those sources may be legitimately bigger and carry heavy weight and power.  I agree and sensitively add, at the same time, in the end it’s also a ‘servant girl’ compared to God’s power.  And in the grey, it’s easy to forget this and also forget that everyone has their servant girls.  All this to say, it’s important to be aware of what or whom we are giving power to, and work towards anchoring on the perspective of where it compares to God’s power and hands.

Third, Peter refused to identify.  While we give that someone or something power, in the process we show subtle degrees of refusing to own who and what God says about us as His children.  Scripture is clear in who we are and God’s molding does to us and through us.  We carry disbelief and replace such words of reformation with thoughts, feelings and beliefs that are born from the arena of judgment.  When we don’t identify, this adds to the grey and provide ammunition for Satan to distort truth to keep you from what God has in store for as long as possible. 

Fourth, these all lead to the power of fear.  Through the whole story Peter was afraid.  Synonyms include: nervous, fearful, anxious and worried.  These and others related to it fall under the family of fear.  God knows the power of fear.  Pick any character in the Bible and read their story, the power of fear is a part of all of their stories of varying degrees.  God doesn't leave them in peril.  From cover to cover, verses to remind us we don’t have to live in it and models action steps to work through it.  God gave an answer to every character’s fear.  God provided a way through the story.

This includes Peter.  Skip forward several months and Peter is in a different place.  By now, Peter grew.  He witnessed the resurrection of Christ.  Suddenly the grey became more clear.  Jesus gave a mission and ascended.  In the early chapters of Acts, he spoke to both Jews and Gentiles at Pentecost and returned to performing miracles.  In one instance, he healed a blind for which he was put in jail with John.  The next day he stood trial with the Sanhedrin and Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit.  He testified that the same Jesus that they crucified was the same Jesus who provided salvation to all.  God’s credibility trumped their own and Peter and John were let go.

In this instance, first and foremost it’s important to note that he was filled with the Holy Spirit.  We often forget to ask to be filled with Him in this way because He’s also in us by default.  But this goes back to the power dynamic.  Who or what do we give power to?  Do we give it to that ‘small thing’ or ask for the Holy Spirit?

Peter was also less ashamed for who he identified with and as.  That change and growth only comes from God working in us and molding us.  But on our end, we can aid that relationship from the fruits of our disciplines and resting in being.  There’s an art to the fruit of our disciplines manifesting themselves in God’s timing.  Unfortunately, we can’t have it be a linear growth experience, but we can rest in the art of God doing what He does best as the Potter.

While Peter was again in an arena of judgment, we aren’t always in such an exact scenario like Peter was.  However, we carry so much judgment in our minds.  Whatever we judge, we give power.  Think of a baby and a jack-in-the-box.  The familiar song plays as the handle gets cranked and out pops a clown or animal.  Babies usually cry at first.  So much occurs in this interaction.  The babies are wondering what’s in the box.  They may be enjoying the music and the motor skill of turning the handle, having an overall pleasant time and feeling good.  Then they can feel startled and afraid.  Then they may or may not want to do it again, at which point if they didn’t they gave it judgment.  They made a final sentencing of, ‘this is scary, I don’t want that to happen again’ and gave it power.  But over time, babies go from crying to eventually laughing about it as it turns into a form of pee-a-boo, and eventually they will lose interest in the toy all together.  A dynamic that I work on with clients frequently is that in a given situation or struggle, it’s great to articulate what you think and feel, but try to stopgap the judgment.  Eventually over time, those jack-in-the-boxes lose hold and power over us. 

With fear, it’s okay to have fear, but it gets hard when we become fearful.  Fear is a God given emotion and exists to inform us of risk, danger, aids in discernment and can help create boundaries if handled in a healthy way.  David in the Psalms models healthy fear and anger towards God, along with a plethora of other emotions and thoughts.  Like Peter did with the Holy Spirit, David draws on God in these moments and is honest and transparent in this.  This includes his desires for judgment.  But notice how he doesn’t give the judgment power on his end.  He asks for it, but in the end, he leaves it to God to make it right.  Again, this occurs cover to cover in Scripture, on a variety of timelines and is happening now.  Anchor in Him and call upon Him through the grey, wait, know who you are and how you were made, be honest, and monitor who/what you give power to.  Keep walking one day at a time and someday God will show how He made it right.

Andy

Andy Yang is a licensed LPC a guest contributor to SFC.  Andy practices in the Denver Area and if you would like to get in touch with him contact him at 720-446-8363 and andy@voyagescounseling.com

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