Recently, our eldest son and I finished reading through ‘The Twelve,’ a graphic novel published by Voice of the Martyrs
, which depicts the life and death of each of the twelve apostles. Peter was one of the disciples described more vividly in this book, in part because the Bible has much more details about him than many of the other men. The book of Acts describes Peter as a first disciple willing to proclaim the gospel of repentance through faith in the resurrection of Jesus in spite of fierce opposition by the Jewish high priests. He was arrested multiple times and, according to church tradition, was crucified upside-down for his bold witness.
Now remember...this is the same guy who was a full-time fishermen and was often confused by Jesus’ teachings. This was the same guy who essentially told Jesus to ‘shut-up’ about dying and then went on to deny that he even knew Jesus. And where was Peter when Jesus was nailed on a cross? Hiding. But Scripture and tradition shows us that Peter certainly changed…over time. He was a man ‘in progress.’ (Hence the title of the new sermon series.)
Our instant gratification culture has done a good job of coercing many people to only think about the moment and rarely think about the future. For example, how many times have you bought something on impulse only to regret it a few days later or indulged in a late night snack only to struggle through the night in discomfort? This mindset has deep implications for our bank accounts and waistlines, but it also influences the person that you and I are becoming years from now. What if you broke away from the moment and got a wider perspective, one which spans weeks or even years, and took some time to consider the person you are becoming. What would you need to achieve that? A few hours alone? An intentional conversation with your closest friend? A series of journal entries? A day without the internet? (Gasp!) Whatever it takes, I would encourage you to consider how you are progressing as a person.
As we start this new series on being people 'in progress', I need to be clear about something. Being a person ‘in progress’ is not simply about ‘being a better version of you.’ There are plenty of self-help books and life coaches who wish to sell you that idea. Frankly, I have no desire to be a better version of me. I want to be a better imitator of Jesus and a bolder witness for Him! Therefore, I’m trusting that if I grow spiritually then I will also become a better father, husband, pastor and friend. That seemed to make all the difference for Peter. Remember that he was an ordinary, uneducated fishermen and grew into a bold leader. But not because he set extraordinary goals, or read a lot of books, or gave up fishing to do something more profitable or exciting. He progressed in maturity and boldness because he learned to be with Jesus (Acts 4:13).
As you consider your goals and expectations for 2016, do it with
the Lord. Not only does He know who you will become, but He also is the only one who can give you the Spirit to make it all possible. We are all ‘in progress.’ The question becomes, are you growing into the person that God created you to be? The only way to know that for sure is to walk with Him.