Christian life can be a bit like a roller-coaster. Life is great on the way up and cresting the top, but in between we have the downhill parts. How can we cope then?
All of us have downhill parts in our lives. Even Peter denied Jesus when he waited outside the trial. Why? Peter was destined to lead the church after Jesus’ ascension, but at that moment, when he was being challenged with knowing Jesus, he was scared, defensive, and tired.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
God uses all things in our lives to benefit us, just not always in a way we can see. God has a greater plan.
To use another metaphor: Christian life can be a marathon. When marathon runners hit ‘the wall’, they just want to stop, but they need to keep going, to finish the race. When life gets difficult, we may feel like giving up, but with God’s help we can keep going.
Peter denied Jesus three times, so Jesus asked him, ‘Do you love me?’ three times. They were tougher questions than they appeared:
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17)
We all make mistakes, but love is words + actions. Whether we’re talking about loving Jesus or others, we need to show it by what we do. We all have an inside life versus an outside life. The way you portray yourself online in places like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is probably not a true reflection of who you really are.
Ask yourself: How is my relationship with Jesus? Am I feeding others? We should be modelling Christ, for example in Random Acts of Kindness.
How can I be a better follower?
Focus on him
Take responsibility for your response
Support others on your team
Be passionate and persevere
There was an ardent Swans supporter (Swansea City football team) who entered the London Marathon to raise money for charity. He found out that the Swans had an important match in Swansea (south Wales) on the same day as the marathon. He was desperate to be at the match, but there wasn’t enough time after the marathon to get there. He even considered how much it would cost him to hire a helicopter. But in the end he sacrificed the match because he was committed to serving others. We need to get our priorities right. We need to follow Jesus above all.
[based on a sermon by Pete Orphan at Pantygwydr Baptist Church]
Ann Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Find out more at www.annmariethomas.me.uk