Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Makin' Me Look Good

“Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying [arguing], as soon as I was sent for…” (Acts 10:29)

“Ahem! That wasn’t exactly the way it was, Peter.”

Aren’t you glad God chose to let us see so many of this man’s failings and foibles? One of many reasons for believing the Bible is actually the Word of God is that nothing or no one is sugar-coated. Sin is named and so are sinners. God tells us not to lie and then gives us examples of good people who did. Not to neutralize the prohibition but to humanize the perpetrator. “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin…” (1 Jno. 2:1). You and I cannot point to Bible characters to excuse our sin (“So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” Rom.14:12); but we can look at them to affirm that none of us are special cases (“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man…” 1 Cor.10:13).

Case in point: Cornelius, a high-ranking, Italian soldier, had sent for Peter to come and tell him the way to acceptance with God. He was sincere, and God knew it; so, at the same time He instructed Cornelius in a vision to send for Peter, he instructed Peter in a vision to go to Cornelius. The trouble was, Peter, being a good Jew, did not socialize with Gentiles. And the truth is, even when God told him to do it, he bristled (v. 14). To his credit, when the men came to take him to Cornelius, he did go. What I could not help noticing, however, was that when he met Cornelius, he was careful to let him know that his coming was an indication of just how unprejudiced he really was (v. 28). Then, just for good measure, he added, “I had no objection to it at all. I didn’t offer one argument.” Well, obviously, this was not the case. But if you have read Peter’s story in the gospels and the book of Acts, you know that his first response was usually to cover for himself (Read Gal.2:11-12 also).

Let’s face it; we all want to look good. And that’s true of our Christian testimony, too. Sometimes it isn’t good enough to be known as a consistent Christian. We want to be seen as a “super-saint,” Miss or Mrs. Spirituality. And we are not above misrepresenting ourselves in order to accomplish this. At least, Peter and I aren’t!

Reputation is who people think we are; character is who God knows we are.
--- Bob Jones, Sr.

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