40.Day

Day 10: Peter’s confusion

LoveSingapore // July 10, 2019, 12:01 am

40.day prayer day 10

Photo courtesy of LoveSingapore

Bible reading for 40.DAY 2019 | July 10: Matthew 16:21-22

Peter is surfing the anointing.

He is on the crest of the wave. He is promised the keys of the Kingdom. Jesus will redeem and rebuild Israel around him. He will dispense the decrees of heaven on earth like a new Moses. This sets him on a path to power and glory, whether he wants it or not.

But the next moment, Peter is talking sheer nonsense.

God’s Messiah is to be rejected and put to death? No way! Back in Peter’s day, it was virtually impossible to speak or even think of a suffering Messiah. The tortured servant of Isaiah 53 was not seen as a messianic figure by any school of Judaism.

Before and after Jesus, fake messiahs arose and fell by the handful. But, according to theological consensus and popular expectation, when the Real Messiah came, he would not suffer and could not fail.

Warning! Jesus Christ does not change to suit our culture. We must conform our culture to His image. 

At any moment now, the superhuman Son of Man of Daniel 7 would show up. He would topple Rome, destroy sinners, restore the golden age of Israel, and rule on David’s throne. That’s what Peter and his contemporaries were expecting.

Peter was a child of his time. He simply did what we would have done and in fact still do: Rebrand Jesus for the market. Tweak Him to fit popular expectations. Make Him relevant to our community. Tailor Him to suit our culture.

In this way, every generation recreates Jesus in its own image. Every nation accommodates the Gospel to its own culture. For example, the German state church in Hitler’s time made Jesus so German they forgot He was a Jew. And this played into the hand of the antichrist and his Final Solution.

Warning! Jesus Christ does not change to suit our culture.

We must conform our culture to His image. When we use Jesus to build our own kingdom, ministry, or career, we play into the hand of the antichrist. Any attempt to conform Jesus to the so-called felt needs of our church and culture – in the name of relevance – will draw the same stern rebuke that Peter got at Caesarea Philippi:

Get behind me, Satan. You are minding the things of men (Matthew 16:23).

PrayerWatch

  • Sober Up. In Singapore, church growth has stagnated. Congregations are ageing. What is our response?
     
    Are we resorting to worldly means to make our churches more attractive and “relevant”? Have we re-branded Jesus for the Singapore market? Have we traded the historical Jesus for Jesus the CEO? Jesus the Business Consultant? Jesus the Brand Wizard? Jesus the Prosperity Guru?
     
    Are we preaching a free-and-easy Gospel of self-esteem and ticket-to-heaven theology? Come as you are and remain as you are. No life-change required. Be yourself. Be happy, healthy, wealthy and wise, and go to heaven when you die.
     
    Have we exchanged worship in spirit and truth for entertainment to dazzle the crowds? Have we traded God’s presence for stage presence?
     
    Let us examine ourselves. Confess our carnality and confusion. Seek the Lord’s forgiveness and cleansing. Ask God for a Back-to-Jesus movement in our city. Return to the fundamentals of the one, holy catholic (universal) and apostolic Church that Jesus builds.
     
  • Wise Up. In our anxiety to grow the Church and attract the next generation, have we misread the young? Ponder and pray these eye-opening research findings published in Growing Young by the Fuller Youth Institute:
    • To attract the younger generation, you do not need an off-the-charts cool quotient. Granted, several of the congregations and leaders bubbling to the top of our research have a certain hip factor. But those were in the minority. For young people today, relational warmth is the new cool.
    • To attract the younger generation, you do not need a “contemporary” worship service. While many young people are drawn to “casual and contemporary” worship, others are drawn to “smells and bells” high-church liturgy and everything in between.
    • To attract the younger generation, you do not need a watered-down teaching style. It’s often assumed that we have to whitewash the teachings of Scripture and make them seem less radical in order to appeal to teenagers and young adults. That’s not what we found. For today’s young people, growing young doesn’t mean we talk about Jesus or the cost of following Him any less.
    • To attract the younger generation, you do not need a hyper-entertaining ministry programme. The entertainment options available to young people in our culture are endless. We don’t have to compete. If we try, we will almost certainly lose. Our research highlighted that faith communities offer something different. Slick is no guarantee of success.

  • Rise Up: The Church Jesus builds impacts culture, not the other way around. Pledge to be totally Christ-centred, Word-based, Spirit-led – for God’s glory!

Read the devotional from Day 9, July 9: Peter’s commission here

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LoveSingapore

Founded in 1995, LoveSingapore is a unity movement motivated by love, fuelled by prayer, and inspired by a common vision: God's greatest glory seen through a life changed, a church revived, a nation transformed, and a world evangelised.