Earlier today, I was pondering the topic of faith. The story of Peter and the denial of Jesus popped into my head. Now, those of us familiar with Peter, know his passionate ways! There is no question he loved Jesus with all his being. At the time, he could not even imagine a situation where he would be denying his Lord and Savior. Now, switch gears with me please. The christians in China have been persecuted for quite some time. Now they are being told to basically renounce Christ and direct their praise and worship to the president of their country. Now let that soak in for a moment.....what does that really mean? In practical terms, it means that those in power will manipulate, abuse and control those that worship God by any means necessary to direct their allegiance to their regime and away from God and his kingdom. "Oh, do you need emergency medical treatment? Well, you better ask your God because we (Chinese government) are going to withhold these things from you because we don't have your allegiance." "Oh, you "somehow" lost your job and now you have no means of support?" "Oh, you don't publicly direct your praise to the president so you do not have access to goods and services."
You see where this is going? Do you begin to see why Peter denied Jesus even though he loved Jesus with all his heart? This thing called faith (under pressure) is now pulled into the equation. Now, let's look at Luke 22: 31, 32. "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." Please, please let the weight of this moment impact your spirit and what this means for us today. Now, Jesus - is - praying - for - Simon Peter. I emphasize that because prayer matters. What is he praying? That Peter's faith may not fail. It is a prayer of petition....of asking. Jesus knows the Father's heart is that Peter may exercise and walk out his faith in boldness and confidence and so he offers this prayer of petition according to his Father's will.
Now, right after this Jesus says, "when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." Wow, so Jesus knows that Peter is going to crash & burn in that moment, but he knows Peter is going to come back around and the prayer to his Father is invested in Peter for the long haul. Jesus has a tremendous love for him and this spiritual outpouring is taking place in this moment between Jesus and Peter.
When Peter does come around, Jesus wants him to strengthen his brothers. Now, there is this idea of being fixed or steadfast here. Jesus is leading Peter to a whole new level of faith. The kind that is fixed and solid. Jesus was not focused on the denial, he was focused on what was to come after this test of pressure and the gift of faith that would come upon Peter. Shouldn't we also be praying for ourselves and for one another that our faith may not fail as these times of increasing pressure in life come upon us? God has always been about the process. After all, that is a major component of discipleship. I encourage you to really think about the practical state of your faith. Are you at the place where you will deny Jesus in a high pressure situation even though you could never imagine doing such a thing? In real everyday life, growth comes from trial and pressure. Ask and invite God to grow your faith according to his will and plans for you. If we fix our eyes and desires upon him, begin to pour out our lives to him as the holy spirit leads, then the growth will happen and the steadfastness of faith will come.