During his ministry years, Jesus had a tumultuous relationship with Peter. Even while granting him heavy responsibilities, Jesus submitted “the Rock” to numerous public chastisements. In one of the more extreme confrontations, Jesus calls Peter “Satan” and lambasts him for thinking as man thinks, not as God thinks. This outburst must have been confusing for Peter and for the other disciples, as Peter had simply been pledging to protect Jesus when Jesus explained what was waiting for him in Jerusalem. And vowing to protect people is good, isn’t it?
Not when it’s against God’s plan.
We born-agains all have a bit of Peter in us, wanting earnestly to serve God and follow Jesus and yet occasionally taking on the role of Satan without realizing it. I doubt that Peter was aware that he was acting like Satan when he offered to protect Jesus, just as we’re not away that we’re acting like Satan when we want to, for instance, make the world a better place.
“Change!” is the new rallying cry of political parties, governments, youth-oriented organizations and much of the globalized masses, and with it comes the pledge to “make the world a better place”. But do we really mean when we say we want to make the world a better place?
What we’re implying is that the world could be better than it is. Surely there’s nothing wrong with that statement. We’re all working on improving ourselves, so why not improve the world, too?
Working to improve yourself is one thing; it implies a decision of your own will to work on yourself. It implies an action that you choose, followed by a consequence that’s specific to you. To get better consequences for yourself, you choose to do better actions. However, when you impose this mode of thinking on the world, you attempt to override the consequences of other people’s actions. What you’re in effect saying is: The consequences of other people’s actions are not suitable. But what you’re really saying is: God’s justice is flawed and therefore God’s justice is imperfect and needs to be changed.
As born-agains, we know that God’s justice is perfect. We know that we live in “the best of all possible worlds” because God gives us exactly the consequences to our actions that we’ve earned. If anything, he mitigates (lessens) the consequences we suffer out of love for us, to the extent that mitigation is warranted (e.g., we are unaware that what we are doing is wrong, or we do something out of a “blind rage” or in an extreme emotional state). God’s mitigation (or mercy) is reflected in the most civilized of the world’s courts, and it should also be reflected in us.
God’s justice is perfect. If we accept this statement as self-evident, then we necessarily have to see the rallying cry for “Change!” as a howl from the pit of hell. God never changes; his truth and justice are as perfect today as they have ever been or will ever be.
As the old adage goes, you can’t improve on perfection. If God’s justice is perfect, then the only way to make this profoundly flawed world a better place is to make better choices yourself, and in that way improve your own outcomes. But when you try to change or mitigate the consequences of other people, you simply shift the earned outcome to another circumstance. They get what’s coming to them sooner or later, one way or another.
A clear example of “shifting outcomes to another circumstance” is the evolvement of disease. The proponents of modern Western medicine like to gloat that numerous diseases have been eradicated through medical interventions, but what they don’t add is that in eradicating certain diseases, others have either become more virulent or more widespread. Bacteria-caused diseases and conditions are getting harder and harder to treat due to the evolvement of bacteria that is now resistant to antibiotics. At the same time as Western medicine is claiming higher “survival rates” of cancer victims, more and more people are contracting the disease than ever before. People are living longer (allegedly, although Methuselah might not agree with that assumption) through improved health care and sanitary conditions, but their quality of life is questionable, given that most older adults experience multiple diseases and conditions, which only increase as they grow older. Is it really an improvement to live to the age of 90, if you spend the last decade of your life confined to a bed in a long-term care institute?
Whenever you hear the rallying cry “Change!”, you need to add “…the more things stay the same” and “Get thee behind me, Satan!”. God’s justice is perfect; it cannot be improved. The only change you can make is in yourself. You cannot impose change on others; if you try, all you do is shift consequences to another circumstance.
Peter wanted to protect Jesus, but Jesus needed to undergo the arrest, torture and crucifixion in order to fulfill scripture as the Messiah. I’m not saying to ignore the beaten-up guy along the side of the road like the priest and Levite did in the Good Samaritan parable. What I’m saying is to wait for God to show you who to help and when to help them. These people will come to you, trusting that you can help them. God will have sent them. This is how Jesus healed: he could only help those who came to him and who trusted him to help them. The people of Nazareth didn’t trust him and therefore were not healed.
Wait for God to show you who and when to help. Rather than blindly following the world’s Satanic cry of “Change!”, wait for God, like Jesus did.
And in the meantime, make better choices.