Peter demonstrates the nearly universal human aversion to pain and struggle—and seemingly even discussion of them. Jesus tells the disciples “quite openly” that he must suffer and die. Peter doesn’t want to hear it; he doesn’t want his friend to go through these harsh experiences. Who would desire that for anyone they love? But Jesus challenges Peter’s statement.
Jesus calls Peter “Satan”—a blistering charge to level at a friend. Then he says that Peter is thinking about the wrong things. Jesus points out that part of our discipleship involves attending to our thoughts. Scripture often mentions this idea, from Psalms and Proverbs to the New Testament. For example, Colossians urges believers to “set [their] minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (3:1), and Paul admonishes the Corinthians to identify every thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ and to take thoughts “captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
Paying attention to our thoughts takes us deeper than actions, to attitudes and motives. I can easily identify recent thoughts that I know are contrary to what Christ wants for us. Can you? Daydreaming about a bigger house, a fancy car, a more powerful job, great acclaim—all can lure us away from the downward way of servanthood. And we can fall into patterns of looking at people around us negatively and judgmentally rather than honoring each of them as a dearly loved child of God for whom Christ died.
The call to monitor our thoughts is a call to discomfort and to self-control. What might Christ say about where you have centered your thoughts today?

O God, help me center my thoughts on what will honor Christ and enable me to live a life of love and grace, mirroring the grace you show us all. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Mark 8:31-38

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Lectionary Week
February 19–25, 2018
Scripture Overview

We cannot earn God’s love. Going back to the time of Abraham, God’s blessing has been based on faith. God chose Abraham for a covenant not because Abraham was perfect but because he believed God. The psalmist reminds his audience of their ancient relationship with God and expresses the hope that it will continue through future generations. Paul reinforces the centrality of faith in Romans. Following the law was not bad, but no one should believe that following the law could earn God’s favor. In Mark 8, Jesus pushes his disciples in their understanding of faith. Trusting God means surrendering everything, including position and reputation. If we value those things more than God, then we are not displaying the faith of Abraham.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16. No rules, just relationship. How comfortable are you in your relationship with God? Upon what does it rest?
• Read Psalm 22. Which verses are most familiar to you? In what ways does your faith journey live in the interplay of shadow and light?
• Read Romans 4:13-25. How easily do you live in God’s grace? In what areas do you find yourself “reckoning” your righteousness?
• Read Mark 8:31-38. When the world asks you who you are, what is your reply?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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