Have you ever wanted to be like someone? When I was a kid, I wanted to have a job that allowed me to wear a name tag. Then came the Jr. Rangers. The Jr. Rangers were a nature program based out of Henniker NH. Normally I would have no interest in identifying birds or anything, but this was an exception. The Jr. Rangers had name tags. I used to wear my name tag all the time. I was extreme in my desire to be a respected citizen with a job that required a name tag.
I wish the same could be said of my walk with Christ. The reality is, each of us would probably say that we have a desire to be sold out for Christ, but come short of achieving that desire so often it’s sickening. We end up putting on the “name tag” of Christian, but we really don’t have the first clue of what that means.
That’s why I love reading of men like Peter. Peter messed up so often, but he was ultimately one of the greatest Christ-followers of all time. As we open our Bibles to Matthew 16, we see a convincing example of what it takes to be a Christ-follower. Peter’s interaction with Christ and the disciples show us that it is possible of every Christian to be a radical Christ-follower.
Consider these three aspects of Peter's own personal testimony.
Radical Christ-Following Starts with a Sincere Confession (Matt. 16:13-20)
Christ is following his typical style of entering into dialogue with his disciples, when He turns to them and asks them a startling question. There's a certain “Duh” factor to his question. Peter responds by confessing that Christ is Lord. Two factors are involved in Peter’s confession.
1. Peter's Confession Came as a Result of His Experiences (v. 15)
Here's a sobering question for you to consider: What have you seen done in your life? Even with some amazing experiences there are those who do not give the faintest hint of living out their confession. You have see all this and yet do you confess Christ as Lord? Are you willing to live your confession?
2. Peter's Confession Resulted in Great Expectations (v. 17-19)
The pattern of God's Word is that those that he calls, he places a great burden of ministry on. Following Christ always involves great expectations. Think about it. There was Moses, Nehemiah, Paul, and others who confessed God and were given a great deal of expectations.
God is calling you! In order to be a radical Christ-follower, you must be prepared for GREAT EXPECTATIONS.
Here's the truth: It is possible for every Christian to be a radical Christ-Follower. There's a second aspect of Peter's personal testimony that is worthy consideration.
Radical Christ-Following Continues Despite Disappointing Personal Failure (Matt. 16:21-23).
Christ’s plan throughout his personal ministry had been to take that trip into Jerusalem. As he laid out his plan, Peter realized that it would cost Christ his life, and raised a strong objection. “Be it far from the Lord!” Christ, realizing that Satan was trying to use Peter to thwart the efforts of the cross turns to Peter and says… “Get thee behind me Satan!” Can you imagine?
There will be times in your Christian life where you are tempted and perhaps feel overcome in your areas of personal failure - Continue on! Some of you are making choices even now… There’s hope! Some of you are going on missions trips… Get right!
Consider Peter! No matter how great your personal failure is, it is possible for every Christian to be a radical Christ follower!
Following Christ in an extreme manner means realizing you must confess Christ with your life and you must continue despite personal failure. There is a third vitally important aspect of Peter's testimony we need to discuss.
Radical Christ-Following Realizes that an Extreme Cost is Involved (Matt. 16:24-26).
As Christ turned to his disciples after his rebuke of Peter, he used a very specific word picture that would evoke particular emotions in his followers. Take up your cross. Christ told the disciples that they must be willing to follow to his death…
On Oct. 13, A.D. 64, during the rule of Nero, Peter was captured. Taken to the ruler, Nero. “I’m not worthy to die as Christ.” Crucified upside down. Peter realized what it meant to pick up his cross and follow Christ, and he followed him to an unimaginably painful death. How about you? What is it that you won’t give up? Some of you are so absorbed in the world that you don’t even hear the voice of Christ: “Pick up your cross and follow me…”
I loved my Junior Ranger tags, but I had no idea what was involved in holding a job. Some of you love your “Christian” tag, but you have no idea what is involved in truly following Christ.
Peter learned that following Christ involves making a strong confession, continuing despite disappointing personal failure, and realizing that an extreme cost is involved.
Be a radical follower of Christ!