The Apostle Peter, the Rock, denied Jesus 3 times on the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion. He denied our Lord to save his skin, since he believed that he too, may have been brought to judgment on that night. How many times have you denied the Lord his proper place in your life? Our denials are not always as literal as Peter’s. We deny our Lord by placing ourselves and our interests before Him. Jesus told his disciples in Luke 9:23-26, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up the cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit your very self? If any of you are ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” To follow our Lord requires complete dedication and willing obedience. If we choose to concentrate on our own identities, our own families, our successes, or accomplishments, we will lose that which really matters, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that is necessary in order to gain our salvation. Those of us more concerned with satisfying our worldly desires and pleasing ourselves before pleasing our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will have no part in His kingdom.
So, we must deny ourselves in order to place Christ first and foremost in our hearts. This is not such an easy task for a sinful and selfish humanity. The ELCA is so passionate in their struggle for social justice that they have lost sight of the reason that we should work to right the wrongs of this world. Jesus is the reason that we strive to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, provide care for the sick and injured, and welcome all sinners to worship our Lord. We do these acts, not of our own volition, but because Jesus himself first did these things in His Father’s name. Without our Lord, we are lost, trapped in our selfish world, full of sin, with no one to deliver us from the corruption that can so easily overcome our lives. Luke 18:26-27,29-30, “Who then can be saved? Jesus replied, “What is impossible with human beings is possible with God. Truly I tell you, no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.” Salvation is a gift from God alone. No matter how we hard we try attain the kingdom of God by the virtue of our own accomplishments, we will fail. Only by the grace of God are we granted salvation.
Acts 4: 11-12, “Jesus is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved.” Jesus is indeed the cornerstone that our faith and church is built upon. Without His death and resurrection, we all would stand accountable for our sins and the punishment that we so greatly deserve. All that we are and hope to be is a gift that He has provided to us. Since we owe our very lives to our Lord, why is it so difficult to thank and praise Him in our daily lives? Study God’s Word and you will be filled with His Spirit. The Bible is God speaking to each and every one of His children. Read it, learn it, and let His Word lead you to the personal relationship with Christ that He desires and that we all are seeking.
1 Peter 4:1-2, “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because those who have suffered in their bodies are done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” When we place our Lord at the center of our lives and express our love for others as He did, sinful desires and worldly practices that we once placed as priorities, will cease to be important in our daily lives. We must be diligent then and temper our desires for the things of this world, so that we always place Christ first in our hearts.