Wednesday, July 19, 2023

            Peter wrote two of the letters that we have in our Bible.  Both letters bear his name—1 Peter and 2 Peter.  We find them near the end of the New Testament.  In the second letter, Peter chose this way to introduce himself to his readers, “Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours” (2 Peter 1:1).  We all have ways that we see ourselves or ways that we may use to introduce ourselves to others.  And Peter did too.  For some we might choose a name, a nickname or a vocation.  But in Peter’s case, he chose two titles for himself.
            First, Peter called himself a “servant.”  The word he chose for servant means “to be enslaved.”  He saw himself as irreparably and undeniably bonded to Jesus.  He was attached to Christ with unbreakable bonds of faith and loyalty.  The days of denying Jesus or his relationship with Jesus were gone.  That awful night where he denied Jesus three times was just a distant and bitter memory but no longer did it possess him.  He was happy for anyone to read the way that he introduced or identified himself.  To be enslaved or a servant implied that Peter considered himself to be the property and possession of Christ.  He was captured by Christ and captive to Christ.  Indeed, we believe that Christ ransomed us from sin and Satan by His atoning death at the cross where he both suffered for and paid the price for our freedom.
            It is rather ironic but extraordinary theology to conclude that we are free only in and through our slavery to Christ. Our submission to Christ means we are liberated from the things of this world that could possess us or imprison us.  A servant of Christ is free for eternity.  And a servant of Christ will not settle for the cheaper substitutes that Satan might propose or offer.  As Paul wrote in Galatians, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).
            The second way that Peter identified himself was as an “apostle.”  An apostle literally is one who is “sent.”  He was sent by Christ and sent for declaring good news—the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  To take the title “apostle” meant he had both an identity and a mission.  When thinking of the word apostle, we can envision this word meaning that one is an ambassador of and for Christ.  Indeed, Paul wrote, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20).  The gospel is communicated today through men and women who have come to faith in Christ and chosen to live for Him above all others.  Peter had made this choice and dedicated the balance of his life to helping others to do likewise.
            In his own words, Peter chose both names “Simon” and “Peter” to introduce himself to his readers.  The name Simon was a reflection of his old-self.  His birth name likely remained as a reminder of who and what he had been before Christ called him to drop his nets and follow.  The name Peter was the enduring reminder that he was a rock—his confession of faith in Christ would be the bedrock upon which Christ would build His eternal Church.  And today, the Church of Jesus Christ is built upon the confession of believers who choose to declare that Christ is Savior, Lord and God.  Paul wrote that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13).  We are reminded of Thomas’ confession after seeing the risen Jesus for the first time.  Though he disbelieved at first, Thomas quickly confessed that Jesus was His Lord and His God (see John 20:28). 
            The word “servant” brings to mind the word “slave” as well.  As a servant or slave, Peter was wholly in the clutch and care of Christ.  He had no other master or lord.  He was sold-out to Christ and Christ alone.  He was under the watchful care of the great and good shepherd.  All this consideration about Peter’s identity helps us to realize that there really are only two divisions among the human race—those in Christ and those separate from Christ.  Those who are in Christ are sent to declare good news to those who are still separated from Christ. John the Baptist realized that his mission was to decrease while Christ increased (John 3:30).  Still today, we are to lose ourselves in decrease and to diminish in our own power and ways.  We are to die to self so we can live in and for Him.  None of this is easy.  None of this is humanly possible.  It is only through the transforming and redemptive power of God’s everlasting grace that we can experience it. 
            Peter’s brief introduction gives us reason to think about how we see ourselves.  His words help us to see that Christ is the dividing line in any life that is committed to Him.  Life after and with Christ is distinctly different from life before Christ and apart from Christ.  Have a great Wednesday!  Remember you can share our worship any day at     

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