Oops. I did it again!
“I’m never going to do that again!” Or, “What is wrong with me?! Why do I keep making the same mistake over and over again!?”
Have you ever found yourself in the middle of an internal dialogue that went something like that? I certainly have. Sometimes an old button gets pushed and before you know it I’ve reacted like the “before Jesus” me.
This week I read the passage in Romans 7:15 where Paul says , “I don’t really understand myself,for I want to do what is right but I don’t do it.Instead I do what I hate.”
I can so completely relate to Paul here. But what Paul goes on to explain is that on our own strength we can’t avoid the power of sin in our lives. It is only by our reliance on the spirit working in us that we have a chance. We are weak humans with a sinful nature.
The next day my reading took me to the passage where Peter swears up and down that not only will he never desert Jesus, he will die for him. Good old Peter. Of course immediately he turns around and denies he ever knew Jesus.(John 18:25).
Last Sunday Pastor Chris preached about “Before and After” in the book of Acts. He looked at the early church before and after the the Holy Spirit came to empower the disciples of Jesus. A verse jumped out at me with a brand new meaning and application. In John 20:19 we read “the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders.”
Pardon me? These disciples who had lived with Jesus for 3 years-who gave up their jobs and famiies to follow him-were now afraid of the Pharisees? These disciples saw him crucified, saw the empty tomb and saw him risen and alive. They knew he was the son of God. They had seen him heal and raise the dead to life. But they were huddled in a room behind a locked door afraid. This passage caused my jaw to drop. If these followers were so immobilized with fear after living with him for 3 years, what hope do we have?
But there is the wonderful thing I realized! It is the power of the Holy Spirit that gives us our “after Jesus” identity. Once the disciples received the Holy Spirit at Pentacost they were unstoppable! No more cowering behind locked doors. They were out there healing, preaching, and basically telling those same Jewish leaders to get lost. Peter, the denier becomes Peter the preacher. He is a changed man.
What I also realize is that in spite of my identity and relationship with God, like Paul and Peter-i will sometimes make a mess of things. And you will too. But it is the Holy Spirit who speaks in to us when we are wrong and helps us to go another way.
That is our “after” story.