With all the talk about Christianity and God there are a lot of misconceptions about who He is and how He operates. So many people want to make God into their image and make Him act the way they think He should.
If there is one thing that we should know about Christianity is that it is not a man made religion because no man would have established a religion in this way. All other religions are about you working your way to God and Christianity is about God working His way to you. So from the start Christianity is different than any other religion.
Now lets look at some other ways Christianity is different from other religions and even some of our own faulty thinking.
1) The ways of God do not always make sense
The disciple’s idea of the Messiah was still not a hundred percent correct even though they answered the question correctly about who Jesus was. The idea of a Messiah that would have to be killed was beyond what they could imagine. They still believed that Jesus was coming to establish His Kingdom rule on earth right then.
Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Psalm 92:5-6 How great are your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep! The stupid man cannot know; the fool cannot understand this:
We all have an idea of how God should work and what He should do and then those ideas get smashed to the ground when the very opposite happens. Evil people seem to prosper and the good always seem to suffer. Nice guys seem to always finish last and “Only the good die young”
It makes sense if someone suffers for their own wrong doing but not when we suffer for the wrong doings of others. Peter did not understand the ways of God and he became a stumbling block to what Christ was going to accomplish.
“Must Go to Jerusalem”: Jesus had to die for our sins so we could be in a right relationship with God.
No one knows for sure when Jesus fully realized His purpose on this earth was to die for all humanity, but He knew that time had come for Him to face His impending death.
Hebrews 9:22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
When Adam and Eve sinned they experienced death for the first time when God sacrificed an animal on their behalf. They did not understand death because death did not enter the world yet. (Romans 5:12) We know that an animal paid the price because it said God had clothed them with garments of skin (Genesis 3:21) and this was God showing them the sacrifice of what the messiah would eventually do for all mankind. The ways of God required blood for the penalty of sin and Jesus was to be the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of all mankind.
Hebrews 7:26-27 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.
One has died for all is the story of Christianity and that is what bothers people so much. Christ is not the one who needed saving yet He gave Himself up because He was perfect and only a perfect sacrifice was acceptable to God.
If I were God or if I was making up a religion then purgatory, the idea of you going into Hell till you pay for your own sins, makes more since. The reason I do not believe in a purgatory is because if you can attain salvation or purity by any other means than the death of Christ then Jesus died for nothing.
Jesus must go to Jerusalem because He knows if He does not all of mankind will be lost for eternity. Gods wrath was poured out on the perfect sacrifice Jesus Christ.
“Peter began to rebuke Him”: When you do not understand the ways of God your tendency is to correct Him.
The rebuke was ongoing from Peter and not just a one time statement. It was easy for Peter to see Jesus as the healer, the prophet and the long awaited conquering Messiah but not as a suffering servant. Isaiah 53 predicted that the Messiah would suffer but this is not what they were taught about Jesus. Many churches teach about God’s plan for your life, healing and prosperity but the roads God has us go down sometimes are anything but those things.
Because Peters thinking about the Messiah was wrong He was confused to what Christ was all about. We are the same way when we have an expectation from God and then the complete opposite happens and we start telling God how He messed up. For some that is when they walk away.
“A Hindrance (Stumbling Block) to me”
It is not always evil people who can keep you from the will of God; it can be well-meaning but misled Christians.
The word Stumbling block can mean a rock sticking up from the ground along the path but It also means the bait stick on a trap that would trigger the trap to shut trapping or killing the animal. Eventually it became known as the trap itself luring animals in to their death.
This is why our friends can be more of a trap for us than evil people because we are lured in because they have something good to offer only to find that they were used as bait. Peter went from being the man who was praised for getting the answer correct to being rebuked and called Satan.
God has a plan and it is not our job to tell Him how to carry it out.
The things of God do not always make sense to us and our limited knowledge but we have to be careful to not get in the way of what God is doing. Christians can sometimes say what God should and should not do and by doing so they are actually getting in the way of what God is accomplishing in someone’s life.
Jesus called Peter Satan not because he was possessed but Satan was using him as a temptation in Jesus life to keep Him from the cross. The temptation to avoid what was coming was an ongoing temptation for Jesus and as we will see, Jesus begged God for there to be another way.
“You are not setting your mind on the things of God”
God does not need to change His ways you need to change your thinking.
Our responsibility is to make sure we keep God’s perspective at all times. This is difficult when things do not go our way or when things look bleak.
Two things will keep you from Gods will: Satan and Self.
We focus on the dumbest things because we do not see or understand what God is doing. As life takes various turns and twist that we do not understand we can trust that God is still in control
James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers,[a] when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
God uses trials to make us what we need to be. Just like an athlete has to keep their eye on the prize instead of the pain so must we keep our eyes focused on the fact that God as our loving creator has a plan that goes beyond our understanding.
2) The ways of God are not always easy
Jesus is not missing a teachable moment for His disciples. They clearly did not fully understand what the cost of following Christ was and so Jesus uses the cross as a teachable moment because they were probably seeing some in the area they were in.
If Anyone: An open invitation to everyone
Jesus expands His thought to those who will choose to follow Him. It is as if Jesus is saying, “If you want to follow me you can but here is what is required.”
To follow Christ means I give up my dreams, my wants and my desires. It means to disown yourself.
We live in a world of Self- esteem, Self- image, self – love and self – promotion. You Tube, My Space, Face Book, Twitter, Blogs are made easily into ways of promoting self. I know there are some good uses of all those things but they can also be a gateway for people to promote self.
Comedian Jim Gaffigan asked the question about their being mirrors in the gym. He goes onto say, “I want to look at myself, while I improve myself, maybe I will make a recording with my voice so I can listen to myself.”
We live in a me centered society and Christ calls us to die to that me- centered. If you want to know why you are having marriage problems it is because of selfishness. My goal to follow Christ is to ask what do you want for me to do today.
When is the last time you asked Jesus what He wants for you to do instead of telling Him what you are going to do?
Instead of dreaming big dreams for God, why not just ask Him what His will is?
Ephesians 4:22-24 to put off your old self,[f] which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Take up your cross
A long road of suffering that comes from following Christ.
Taking up your cross meant more than just dying even though that was the end result. Take up your cross was meant that there would be a journey to where you would die.The criminals would carry their cross or the cross beam to the place to be crucified. It was literally a death march down the street.
It is estimated that the Romans executed 30,000 people during the life of Christ. There was a 100 men crucified in the very area Jesus was now in not long before He arrived there. The cross was a real and disturbing sight for all in that region and to use it as a form of teaching would have made a impact on the disciples.
It is not death that is the hardest part for us, it is the constant struggle of carrying the cross as we journey down these paths we are on.
1 Peter 4:12-14 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory[b] and of God rests upon you.
Follow Me: The obedience of every true disciple of Christ
Everyone wants to be a leader but Christ calls us to follow. Everyone wants to be the captain but nobody wants to be the deckhand. Many people say they want to follow Christ until it gets difficult or till Jesus does not do what they think He should do. To be a follower means we do not pick and choose where we follow.
In John 6:66 we see the teaching of Jesus became difficult and many disciples turned and walked away.
3) The ways of God are rewarding
Gain the world or Gain Eternity
We have to keep life in perspective because we can make it seem that the things of this world are more important. There is no lasting benefit for gaining the world and not matter how rich you are you still leave all your belongings behind.
Christ came the first time as the suffering servant but when He comes again it will be in His glory. There is nothing in this life that is even going to compare with what is to come. One of our most precious metals is used as pavement in Heaven.
The temptation has and will be to focus on the things of this world. Satan tempted Jesus with having the Kingdoms of this world and he tempts us with the same things. (Matthew 4)
We cannot get distracted by this world and what it has to offer because we will be rewarded for the things we gave up and how we have run this race.
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
This judgment seat is not a court room but that of an official judging an athletic event. Just like a racer is rewarded for how they ran so we as believers in Christ will be rewarded.
The racer gets their reward at the end and so many of us want our reward now. Yes the racer may hear shouts of encouragement and even given a cup of water but the real rewards come when our time on earth is done.
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
A Christian will not be judged to see if their good outweighed their bad but only on what they did for Christ and for His glory. We cannot earn our salvation but a person that is a true follower of Christ will show works because they are following in the footsteps of Christ.
The person who is not a Christians will be judged like that in a courtroom based on what they have done and they will be found guilty because their works are not enough to earn a place in the Kingdom of God.
God uses us not for what we have to offer Him but because we are usable.
John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
We get rewarded for what Christ did through us and if we spend time with Him then we will be used and rewarded by Him.