Today’s scripture recounts a notable interaction between Jesus and Peter. When Jesus shares a message of suffering and death with his disciples, Peter rebukes him. Jesus replies, “Get behind me, Satan” and warns that Peter’s mind is not on the things of God but on human things. How shocked and embarrassed Peter must have been at Jesus’ response!
Often, Jesus’ message did not conform with the disciples’ expectations. Throughout the Gospels we see other moments where Jesus’ actions and teachings do not line up with what the disciples believe their rabbi’s next steps should be.
We often experience the same internal conflict as did the disciples. We may feel a spiritual nudge to take an action that runs counter to our ideals and common sense. Perhaps we feel a growing passion for a specific political or social issue. Or we sense a pull toward a person in need, though their life path is out of sync with our personal values. We may feel drawn toward a kindness that is completely illogical. Perhaps we feel compelled to extend grace that comes at personal cost.
Others—even other disciples of Jesus—may warn us not to pursue the matter that weighs on our hearts. Logically, we may even agree with them. Yet we can’t deny what we feel compelled to do. In such moments, we must decide which voice to follow.
Today’s scripture reminds us that Jesus’ ways are not like ours. Though many of us have followed Christ for most of our lives, heeding God’s call can lead us in surprising directions. God’s voice is more reliable than our own common sense. When we act outside of our own logic and trust God’s Spirit within us, we follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
Help us, Holy One, to follow your voice and trust your ways, even when they don’t make sense. Amen.
Through the scriptures and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, God shows the paths of righteousness and warns against the ways of destruction. The writer of Proverbs describes this as the voice of Wisdom crying out, yet some refuse to listen—to their peril. The psalmist rejoices in the law of the Lord, for God’s decrees teach us how to live well. Living a godly life includes paying attention to our speech. How can we, James asks, praise God with our lips and then curse others with those same lips? Peter is tripped up by his words in Mark. He declares Jesus to be the Messiah, yet in the next scene he recklessly rebukes Jesus for speaking of his death. Our words matter, and God desires purity and consistency.
• Read Proverbs 1:20-33. How clearly can you hear Wisdom’s call? What keeps you from answering?
• Read Psalm 19. How do your words and your heart’s meditations reflect your faith? Do you think God finds them acceptable?
• Read James 3:1-12. Consider your words. Do they honor the image of God in those to whom you speak?
• Read Mark 8:27-38. When has God called you to be silent? Were you better able to hear an unexpected call from God?
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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