Monday, March 1, 2010

Fearing God or Fearing Man

“That lesson was really delicious and full!” said Adam*. He is a son of one of the believers and though he hasn’t given his life to Jesus yet, he came with us to the meeting we have with some of the believers in the area. A colleague actually has the responsibility to meet with these guys and teach them the Scriptures, but when he is away, he lets me fill in for him. It allows me to do two things that I enjoy immensely – interacting with the Wolof and interacting with the word of God – when I can combine the two, I’m like a pig in slop!

We were studying John 18:25-27 where Peter denied the Lord. I pointed out that one can deny Him in our speech and our actions. I asked the searching question, “Have you ever denied the Lord?” You see that question is a little different for us than it is for the Wolof. Unlike our experience, the Wolof believers suffer a significant amount of persecution. Many of them know firsthand what it means to be afraid that if you say you are a follower of Jesus you might be killed or worse – ostracized. I did share one occasion when as a new believer I denied the Lord. Like Peter, I wept bitterly.

I contrasted Peter’s denial with Luke 12:8-10. Often Wolof has a larger word choice than English so it is clearer in the Wolof NT what the Luke passage is talking about. It was good for Adam to hear this part as he knows the truth and understands the Gospel so clearly, but has yet to believe. In talking with him more, he openly admits to fear of man and persecution.

We then went to John 21 and saw where the Lord restored Peter. How He gave him a ministry in spite of Peter’s imperfections, in spite of his unwillingness to commit to a higher level of love and in spite of him denying his Lord. Jesus took Peter right where he was and made him the Apostle who led the first church in Jerusalem, who saw the first Gentiles come to repentance, who was a pastor to many in the early church, who wrote part of the New Testament, and who eventually fulfilled this prophecy of Jesus that Peter would be crucified almost like his Lord whom he grew to love so much as to give Him his life.

As I shared this message of God’s great grace towards losers like us, I could see the hope come alive in these dear men. These are men who struggle in their walk from time to time, like me, but who have given the Lord so much, even their very lives.
*Adam is a pseudonym