Can we imagine the horror of standing before Almighty God and hearing the Lord Jesus report that we had denied our Saviour?
But don’t we usually think of such things in connection with brutal persecution such as believers are suffering in many countries? Our imaginations can conjure up a heroic picture of ourselves, as in fancy, we outdo Peter (Matthew 26:33) in his claim that he would never deny Jesus. The time may come when all our goods are confiscated and we may be imprisoned and tortured – but – that is not the place we need to start right now. If our fantasy deceives us about how brave we would be - - in the meantime are we complaining about a headache, a cold, inconveniences which cost us little or no deprivation or pain? If these lesser things weary us in a land of peace (Jeremiah 12:5) what will we do in the swelling of Jordan? We have not yet (Hebrews 12:2-4) resisted unto blood. Let’s think about our regular daily routine. Do we confess the spirit of James and John and deny Jesus by (Luke 9:54) calling down fire on those who disagree with us? Am I willing to confess/obey Jesus (Matthew 5:23-24) no matter the humiliation to myself? The stamp of a saint is that he can waive his own rights and obey the Lord Jesus. Do I confess Jesus every day by my words, deeds, attitudes and REACTIONS. To confess Jesus before men I must learn to respond rather than react. To confess Jesus every day means the absolute annihilation of my right to myself and identification with my Lord. Why did Jesus tell us (Matthew 5:39) to turn the other cheek? In the natural life if a man doesn’t hit back he’s a coward. In the spiritual life if he doesn’t hit back it is because he is a disciple of Jesus.
Several years ago, I was driving down Islington Ave. on my way to work. Suddenly a car came off Hwy 401 at a dangerous speed and cut sharply right in front of me. It was a miracle that I didn’t hit him. I was just going to vent my anger with a blast on the horn – when the Lord said DON’T! You don’t know what that man has to face at work or deal with when he gets home or how much stress he is already under. I brought him to your attention so you could pray for him – not blast him. So I did pray for him and every rude driver I encountered after that and – guess what? – my driving became much less stressful in heavy traffic or whatever. But that is just one small area.
What about personal and unwarranted insults? When Jesus was on earth there was a devil-driven rumour that the virgin Mary had been raped by a Roman soldier and Jesus was the result - - or else He was actually the physical son of Joseph. The Pharisees and religious leaders made it their business to taunt and insult Jesus. Don’t we say rightly that You are a Samaritan (John 8:48) and have a devil? Why would they call Him a Samaritan? Samaritans were only half-Jewish and this would support the hellish lie of their Roman soldier and rape blasphemy.
Also (John 8:19 sarcastically) where is this Father of Yours? Did Jesus retaliate with righteous indignation? No, He responded not to the insults but (John 8:55) to their lack of knowledge. What if I meet up with rudeness, insults, verbal abuse? I don’t have to treat such a person kindly because they deserve it but because I want to confess Jesus before that very person. It won’t hurt me to remember that (Proverbs 15:1) a soft answer turns away wrath.
There are so many ways and places where I can deny Jesus. Something or someone comes late, poor service in a store or restaurant, impatience with people who have some impairment, making sure nobody goes ahead of me in the line and on and on we could go.
To take up my cross (Matthew 16:24) means death/denial of every right, all my rights must be surrendered. Redemption means that Jesus Christ can put into me (Oswald Chambers) the disposition that ruled His own life and all God’s standards are based on that disposition.
That suggests another situation that could be dangerous. Interruptions when I am very busy. I must be beware the good that is the enemy of the best. How did Jesus handle interruptions? He never had any BECAUSE He was on God’s time table. Whether it was (John 1:38-39) two men who wanted His address or (Luke 19:4) a man in a tree or (John 4:10) a woman at a well or (Mark 10:49) a blind man or (John 20:17) just after His Resurrection a broken-hearted woman even before He had ascended to His Father or (John 21:17-19) a thoroughly crushed failure.
His disposition was always to obey/confess/reveal His Father. I want nothing about me to tell lies about Jesus. If my desire and choice is (Galatians 5:24) by the power of the Holy Spirit to crucify the flesh, to mortify (Romans 8:13, Colossians 3:5) kill, deaden the desires of the flesh and my will is surrendered to God, it is not going to cost me something - - it is going to cost the natural in me - everything. All liberty of choice is gone and it is replaced with the joy of restful assurance that the Almighty Sovereign God of the universe, our loving heavenly Father is taking care of every detail and every need of my life. Stress and worry will be strangers and I will (Psalms 1:2, Psalms 37:4) delight myself in the Lord.
Jesus made Himself (Philippians 2:7) of no reputation. Our account with persecution (Matthew 5:39) it is the Lord’s honour that is at stake in our lives - - not our own honour and reputation.