Saturday, February 5, 2011

On the Fence

"And Peter was following Him at a distance ...." (Matt. 26: 58)
How does it feel, up there on the fence?

Peter was a disciple, one of the chosen, and one of the three in Jesus's inner circle.  He saw the Transfiguration. He proclaimed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. He swore to follow Him faithfully. He penned part of the New Testament, and was martyred for his faith.

But he was a fence-sitter. He struggled between the good and the bad. He knew the right thing to do, but did not have the courage to do it.

This is Peter, at Jesus's trial. Unlike others, he knew with certainty who the Son of Man was. But his bravery had evaporated. In his cowardice, he denied knowing Jesus.  He wanted to play it safe, on the fence, at a distance.  He could tell himself, "Well, at least I followed Him here, to His trial, to watch.  I'm lending moral support, kind of. Those other disciples are long gone. It's good enough that I'm here on the side-lines. I'm sure Jesus doesn't really expect any more than that."

(And Peter errs in the same way later, in Acts, with Paul and the Jews in Jerusalem.  He knew Paul was right, but he was afraid to challenge his colleagues.)

Is there any position worse than watching the godly people you know, and the ungodly people as well, and not having the courage to go the right way? To sit in the middle and, by default, choose evil? to watch the godly suffer and lack the gumption to step forward and stand with them?

I'm sorry to say that this happens among God's people all the time. There is a right thing to do, and people won't do it. Everyone may agree privately that wrong is being done, that they don't like it, that they wish somebody would do something about it ....  But it won't be them. People come up with all kinds of reasons not to do the courageous thing -- not to speak out. "I'll offend people I love."  "I'll endanger my own family."  "I'll lose my job."  "It's really complicated." Or my personal favorite:  "This is just a trial from God.  We shouldn't step in a prevent it."

How many of our best stories are about rare people who were willing to step into the gap, to help others, even at their own risk and hurt? Isn't that how we define a "hero"?  Isn't that what Jesus did Himself?

Don't be a fence-sitter.  If there is a wrong being done near you, say something. (Say it kindly, if you can. Say it privately, if you can. But say something.)  And do something to right it. If you face obstacles, go around them. God honors the man or woman who seeks justice and does righteousness. To be otherwise is to "follow at a distance."

1 comment:

  1. A very convicting post, especially for a fence-sitter (often me!).


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