• Beyond The Pale

Four Responses Christians Have To Hearing Christ’s “Good News”


Nearly four years ago I began blazing a new path in my Christian walk.  Although I hadn’t quite put it into words, as I sat in the back of church staring blankly as others swayed with lifted hands to yet another Hillsong tune, I thought to myself, “Is this all there is?  Telling people about you so if they say yes they get to join the club and go to heaven and if they say no, well, they go to hell.  In the meantime, here’s the club manual, read it!  And don’t miss the weekly club meetings.”

Surely You, the God who made all of creation wouldn’t want us to be this boring.

Then I read a book by Brian Zahnd called Beauty will Save the World and everything changed.  That started the snowball rolling and led me to reading Peter Rollins, Greg Boyd, Richard Rohr, Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, and others.  These guys opened up the Bible in a way that was much more in line with who Jesus was and what he was on about.

The “so-so news” had suddenly become “Good News” again!

Here was a group of Christian leaders who were seeing Christians needed to be “saved” as much as anyone.

And I was one of them. I was a Christian pastor who got “saved”!  Not from hell, but from a mind numbing religious system

However my experience in the last few years has been that Christians respond to this Good News of Jesus differently.  Some seed falls on hard soil, some on a soft heart, and some somewhere in between.

So here are 4 responses I have seen to Christians hearing “the Good News”.  (Granted, these are charictures and generalisations.  People are admittedly more complex and nuanced than this but these 4 responses are in the ball park)

The “Double Downer”:.  In poker, sometimes you get a hand at the start you think will be good so you bet high.  As the hand develops though you start to have your doubts; perhaps this hand isn’t what I thought it was going to be.  Then you look and see the amount of money you have already invested and the thought of folding and waiting for the next hand becomes just to difficult to consider.  Instead, you steel yourself, raise the bet, and pray that the sheer confidence you pretend to have will silence your own inner doubt while creating it in your opponents.

It usually doesn’t work…

Likewise I seem to encounter a lot of folk that the real Good News is just to much for them to handle.  Most of them, if they are honest, have their own doubts.  They wonder why the Christian life that was supposed to deliver freedom seems to just create a new set of chains.  Yet they have invested so much of their time, money, and more importantly, their identity into the evangelical “system” that anyone who threatens that system, even if it brings Good News, is a threat.  This is especially hard for Christian leaders.  So rather than admit the hand they are holding is not what they thought it was going to be, they silence the doubt, raise the stakes, and hope if they expose the heresy of Rob Bell loud enough, they might eventually win the hand in the end.

It doesn’t work…

The Jettison God Guy: Some folk just end up jettisoning God all together.  For whatever reason, they have seen behind the curtain of the institutional church system and realize it wasn’t so much about the Great and Powerful Oz as it was about a system pulling levers…and legs.  Either because they are mad, or disillusioned, or simply just don’t give a crap anymore about the games people play in church, these folk find their new journey as atheists.  My brother is in this group and you can get his story here.  I’ve gotten to know quite a few people in this group and here is the irony; since they stopped becoming Christians, many of them have become more “Christ-like”.  So there you go…doubt_dice

The “Civilian”:  Some Christians respond positively to the Good News…but it kinda just stops there.   They know the present system has it’s flaws but at least, they figure, it’s already set up…“and you know, the worship’s good and the kids like it.”  The “Civilian” has their doubts about hell, atonement, church structure, judgement and grace.  They secretly read a book by Brian McLaren or sneek off to hear Rob Bell speak without telling their home group leader …but that’s about where the journey ends. The present system gives them a security, and more importantly, a certainty that keeps them from moving forward.  The best analogy I can think of is the town folk on the East Coast of America in the 19th century.  They knew that the journey West offered freedom, opportunities, and a new life.  But they also knew that it came with less structure, less security, and less trappings of certainty.  On top of that people who took that journey got arrows shot at them.  “Thanks but no thanks, we’ll just stay here in cozy Boston and read your exciting dispatches from the front.”

The “Pioneer”:  Still the “Good News” is heard by other Christians and they can’t help but respond and run with it.  Admittedly, I put myself in this category.  Four years ago I sat in the back of a church and hoped no one called on me to speak. I had nothing to give but “yesterday’s mana”.  It had been so long since the “good news” had been really “GOOD NEWS” that when I finally did hear it I couldn’t shut up.  I suddenly wanted to speak at any gathering that will have me about a Jesus that reconciles all creation through his love, mercy, and forgiveness.  To share about a God gives us the tools through his Holy Spirit to be agents of restoration in the world.  To be part of a new way of ordering society that no longer created an “us” vs. “them”.  And to declare a Good News that says you don’t have to be afraid anymore.  Sure, you get arrows shot at you from time to time. Sometimes it’s a nasty comment, sometimes it’s the shunning by friends, but when I get a little down about those things there will suddenly be an e-mail from a stranger who thanks me for sharing this Good News with them and for the freedom they discovered…

… and then every arrow was worth it!

The number of pioneers are increasing, but there is still so much work left to do.




Logo: Help Needed!

Dear Beyond the Pale readers,iqoncept-Help-Bullhorn

I was hoping someone out there might be able to help me.  If you’ve been following for the last 3 or 4 months you know that I’m preparing to launch a new podcast along with the blog.  (You may have noticed some of the changes starting to happen here at the website).  Anyhow, I’m in the process of trying to design a new Beyond the Pale logo that will be used on the podcast when it goes live in iTunes as well as at the website here.  An artist friend of mine has done some very helpful groundwork creating some sketches and even a rough graphic design to get us heading in the right direction.  I’m looking for someone whose expertise is in logo and / or graphic design that can now take that foundation and translate it into a finished work.

Don’t worry, I’m not looking for a “freebie”!  An artist is worthy of their wages.  But remember this isn’t a deep pocketed business looking for their corporate logo…just a high school teacher looking to do a podcast on the side! :)

If you are interested in taking a look at the preliminary sketches and work to get a better feel please message me by using the contact form, comment section, at the site here or if you know me, through Facebook or e-mail.





“God’s Not Dead 2” Perpetuates a Cycle Christians Are Supposed To Break


Back in 2011 I wrote a post promoting a Christian film company that seemed to be taking faith based
movies into a welcome new direction.  I had just watched Pureflix’s film Hidden Secrets about a group of friends who reunite at the funeral of their old youth pastor.  The movie touched on areas of doubt, faith, sex, and relationships in such a real way it left me with hope that well produced films with a Christ affirming theme were possible.  Here was a Christian group making movies without resorting to the Rapture, the Anti-Christ, culture wars, or fear.

I may have wrote that post a little prematurely!

Unfortunately since then Pureflix has gone on to producing such gems as Jerusalem Countdown, The Mark, and the hugely popular God’s Not Dead.

How the mighty have fallen…

Now this week I saw someone on my Facebook page had posted the newly released trailer for the upcoming God’s Not Dead 2. Watching it I nearly fell out of my chair.  Here were Christians seemingly under attack in America with the declaration, “This is war!”  And although THEE Anti-Christ doesn’t make an appearance in God’s Not Dead 2, I couldn’t help but feeling from the trailer that everything about the film will essentially be “anti”-Christ!

I understand why a group like Pureflix does this though.  Why focus on thoughtful films dealing with folk struggling with real life challenges to their faith like Hidden Secrets when there are an army of Fox News Christians convinced the Philistines are at America’s gates ready to shell out big bucks to see their culture war vindicated on the big screen.

Sixty million dollars in movie receipts later and it’s easy to see why there is a God’s Not Dead 2 and not a Hidden Secrets 2.

The Fallout

What movies like God’s Not Dead does to the American church has sever consequences for the Body of Christ.  When Christians choose to engage in culture wars to defend perceived territory, then the Good News we have to share that people are forgiven and free is lost. Circle the wagons to “defend”, and I guarantee the compassion of Christ in our message will disappear.


Recently a Seattle high school coach was placed on leave for continuing to pray in the middle of the football field after the game. (Sounds like a plot right out of God’s Not Dead) He has been asked not to do this from his school district yet Coach Kennedy has chosen to “make a stand”!  What’s interesting is that “making a stand”;  using prayer as a weapon in the culture war is in a real contrast to Jesus’ admonition NOT to use prayer as a public spectacle;

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.

Matthew 6:5-6

Our instinct as humans though is to “defend” ourselves.  When soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the middle of the night, the disciples first thought was to draw their swords.  But Jesus rebukes them.

This is not how we do it!

If we live by the sword, we shall be caught up in a vicious cycle that will never let us go.  The only way out is to break the cycle…to not play that game!

Movies like God’s Not Dead plays that game!

But they are loved by a lot of Christians because it validates their beliefs on the big screen.  Here are larger than life characters defending “us” (and some how “us” is always noble, brave, and bold) against “them” (who are always characterised as sinister, greedy, and liars) on.  The story of Shylock never ends; it is simply retold in various forms through the generations.

Until Christians are ready to begin to break the cycle of fear and distrust instead of helping to perpetuate it, I fear the return of Christ for his bride will still be a long way off.



Beyond the Pale Podcast Update

Hi all,

Just a quick word to say that there will be some new things happening here at Beyond the Pale.  The website will be under construction for the next week or two as we upgrade, redesign, and prep for the launch of our new podcast.  Somethings might disappear, form and colors might change etc. but the posts themselves should remain accessable.  Think of it like a renovation at store; we’re still open, just ignore the mess.  It will be worth it when it’s done!

And, knock on wood, the podcast should launch later this month…hopefully!



Tennessee Official Seeks Protection From God’s Wrath Over Gay Marriage Legalization


Whew!  That was close.  On Monday the County Board of Commissioners in Blount County Tennessee was all set to vote on a motion asking God (yes, you read that right, “God”) to spare their county from his coming wrath because of the legalization of gay marriage within the U.S.

At the last minute though saner heads prevailed and the agenda item was not brought forth.  That, or the County Board saw that they were on the verge of looking like fools on the national stage and ignored the motion purely from the motive of self preservation.

The entire proposed motion can be found here but it contains nuggets of pure gold such as:

WE adopt this Resolution before God that He pass us by in His Coming Wrath and not destroy our County as He did Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighboring cities. As the Passover Lamb was a means of salvation to the ancient Children of Israel, so we stand upon the safety of the Lamb of God to save us.

WE adopt this Resolution begging His favor in light of the fact that we have been forced to comply and recognize that the State of Tennessee, like so many other God-fearing States, MAY have fallen prey to a lawless judiciary in legalizing what God and the Bible expressly forbids.

You can kinda see why some of the other Commissioners put the brakes on this.

The kicker for me whenever this weird stuff goes down is the selective memory these folk have and what they think is going to incur God’s wrath.  Ok, laying aside all debate on what God’s wrath is, let’s assume an Old Testament position, as the Resolution’s author Commissioner Karen Miller does, and explore what should be the tipping point for God’s anger to be released.

  • In the 18th and 19th century citizens of the United States, driven by the vision of ‘Manifest Destiny”, committed acts of betrayal, murder, and near genocide of the Native American Indian nations.  What tribes were allowed to remain were relocated to worthless and remote reservations.

God’s Wrath is not released…

  • 12.5 million Africans are shipped to the Americas (2 million die in transit) to serve as slaves.  They had their dignity, their lives, and their dreams ripped from them so hard that the effects still reverberate today.

God’s Wrath is not released…

  • Today we continue to destroy the environment, blithely condemn the lives of both the unborn and the criminal, enact laws that help the rich amass wealth beyond imagination as the poor and middle class slip lower and lower on the economic scales, and America can hardly seem to go a year in our history without being at war with someone in the world and yet…

God’s Wrath is not released...

Surprisingly, THIS didn't seem to set off God's Wrath. It sets off mine though.

Surprisingly, THIS didn’t seem to set off God’s Wrath. It sets off mine though.

But somehow two guys getting married and setting up a house somewhere with a lawn and a white picket fence is what brings it on.  THAT is going to be the catalyst for the ‘Fireballs from Heaven’ to start flying?




Two Views On God’s Wrath (or What Type Of “Justice” Are You Looking For?)

Michael Brown (right) and Brian Zahnd (left) debate God's "wrath"

Michael Brown (right) and Brian Zahnd (left) debate God’s “wrath”

For our monthly Bread & Wine group here in Hong Kong last Friday night we watched a debate between Michael Brown and Brian Zahnd over the concept of atonement, or more simply “what exactly was Jesus was accomplishing on the cross”.

Brown took the position defending the theory of Penal Substitutionary Atonement (PSA) or the view that God the Father required a violent sacrifice in order to appease his wrath and forgive humanity of its sin.  Zahnd countered that belief and instead stated that God can forgive of his own volition and that Christ’s death on the cross revealed the heart of the Father which can be summed up as mankind executes it’s creator with, “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing!”

Now there are many verses in the Bible that support Brown’s position.  You want God’s wrath, anger, vengeance, and calls of slaughter of the sinner…it’s all there.  Arguably it’s confined to the Old Testament but some of that good old fire and brimstone works its way into the New.  Sometimes it looks a little misplaced.  Almost like if you had a book about Mother Teresa teaching on loving the poor unconditionally but then she adds, “you can kick their ass later if they don’t respond.”


But it’s natural, as humans we want, dare I say, need to see “bad people” get their comeuppance, their just deserts!  And that was the focus Michael Brown kept coming back to in the debate. Yes, God is loving but (always look for the “but”) he is also just!  

However the concept of justice takes on different form depending on the perspective. If my son breaks into someone’s home and steals their goods the wronged family rightly want to see my son caught.  They want the police to handcuff him and wouldn’t mind if an embarrassing mugshot was posted in the papers.  They want justice!

But it’s retributive justice…They’ve been wronged and that wrong must be righted to restore balance; an eye for an eye .

It’s both very biblical AND what Jesus came to help us rise above.

See the perspective on justice changes radically when it shifts to my view as the father.  Like the offended party I am very upset with my son breaking into a house and stealing their goods but I take no pleasure in seeing him led away in handcuffs or his mugshot on display.

Instead my heart is broken.


As a father I to want justice but I want a justice that makes the situation beautiful again for both my son and the offended party.

I want to see restorative justice.

In the debate, Michael Brown kept coming back to the biblical argument that a debt must be paid for sin but as Zahnd countered this form of retributive justice does not make the world right.

Similarly in the New Testament Jesus countered this Old Testament idea of retributive justice on many occasions (Matthew 5, Luke 9: 54-57).  To repay evil for good in the hope that a sinner could be restored and the world made a little more right.


As a high school school teacher I will often have a student come and tell me what another student is doing that is “bad”.  (For the record, my generation would never have tolerated the tattle tailing that goes on with kids today :) ) The goal of the tattler is to try to get another student in trouble.  When I say I’ll “take care of it” the student is left thinking I will levy some punishment.  In fact they want to see a teacher meet out punishment.  But what is going on in my head though is much different than the tattling student.  They want to see demerits, detentions, and trips to the principal’s office for the offending party.


They want retributive justice!

As a teacher though my goal is much different.  I want to see justice too but I want to bring wholeness to the student’s lives and contribute to keeping the school running in a life giving way.

I want restorative justice!

Paul the Apostle deals with this adolescent attitude to justice in his letter to the Romans.  In the epistle Paul gently encourages a people who only think through the retributive eyes of the offended party towards beginning to view the world, and those around them, through the restorative eyes of a father.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12: 17-21

As humans we often project our need for retributive justice onto God. We want Jesus to come back and kick some butt and haul the bad guys off in chains.

In the process however we often transform into the angry demanding mob!  (Which never leads to anything good)

So when God says, “It is for me to avenge” that’s His way of telling a tattling student that he’ll take care of it.

And believe me the Father sees “taking care of it” a whole lot different than we do.




A Beyond the Pale Update

Hey Beyond the Pale pilgrims and fellow travelers,Thank-You-message2_edited-1

Just a quick update:

First a big thank you!  Yesterday we just passed the number of visitors we had in all of last year: 47,294 which means Beyond the Pale will have well over 50,000 visits by December’s end.  Ok, admittedly, Rachel Held Evans probably gets those numbers in a couple days, but for this high school teacher sitting in a small apartment in South-East Asia, the idea of 50,000 people stopping by to see what’s on at Beyond the Pale and getting inspired both in their faith journey, and to their identity in God, well, it puts some wind in my sails to say the least.

Second: I apologize for being a little slower with new blog posts the last couple months.  Besides the usual time constraints that a 50+ hour a week job and being a husband and father impose, I’m working on launching a weekly Beyond the Pale podcast very soon.  Most of my spare time right now has been devoted to making that a reality.  I’ve had some great friends working with me on a new podcast logo (Thanks Sara!), a coming new look for the website (Thanks Matt!), and all the tech help needed to make the podcast a quality people will actually want to listen to (Thanks Kit!)

Testing the new equipment!

Testing the new equipment!

The podcast will continue to go “beyond the pale” and further the themes explored in the blog.  We’ll mix in some theology, interviews, movies, pop culture, music, news commentary and more all from the underlying theme of exploration and pilgrimage. And my wife Tammy has promised to host the show with me to help keep me in line…so expect some marriage issues to be addressed as well :) )

My hope is to launch in October…and to launch well!

Thanks again for all your support, comments, and “likes” :)



P.S.  I’m still working on my Camino de Santiago memoir as well, which will get done…sometime :)

Why We Defend The Insane Angry God



You know those old movies and TV shows where the “bad guy” would be holed up in his headquarters or “lair”  surrounded by his loyal henchmen.  Then when the “good guy” arrived these “minions” would start taunting the hero and threatening him with all the destruction their leader was going to meet out on the offending intruder.

The taunts were often quite comical

“Kill him boss!”

“You don’t stand a chance against Mr. Freeze!” (or Doctor Evil, or the Mandarin etc.)

“Look, he doesn’t look so tough now does he?”

Inevitably one of the minions would say something out of line with their evil boss and would either get a punch in the mouth…or killed instantly, depending on boss’ mood.

I remember always thinking, “Why are they working for this guy?”  How can they be so adoring and fawning over someone who values them so little?

But the answer became obvious when I grew older and understood;

…they don’t see their value!

They feel just lucky to be accepted into a gang.  A gang with a powerful leader who gives them some form of validation.

Recently I reposted a blog piece I had done on John Piper addressing the distorted view of God I believe he gives to people.  It was sad to see people, Christians, defending the big, bad, boss God in the same way henchmen taunt the good guy who enters the lair.


The Joker was insane…but his henchmen loved him!

Rather than welcome the guy who brings Good News that they are free, they double down and defend the boss that, though a bit insane, still took them in and gave them a tribal identity.

When I have raised this issue in the past, the henchmen of the Angry God Boss always start with, “His ways are much higher than our ways.  Who are you to question God?”  And my answer is always the same,

“Well, since you ask, I’m his son!

Henchmen vs. Children

See a servant or “a henchman” doesn’t question the boss.  And their position in the system is decided solely on their performance.  Say or do the wrong thing (like a henchmen from the TV shows)  and they are out.  A son and daughter are different however.  They can question, dare I say “wrestle” their father without reprisal…without fear.

I’m the father of two sons.  With the 4 year old we wrestle physically.  We roll, and grab, and push playfully.  I love when he gets a little passionate and pushes against me harder. Sometimes he even lashes out and hits me in way that is too hard.  But I’m his father and I can take it.  It gives me the opportunity to lovingly correct him and show him where the boundaries lie.  What is acceptable and not acceptable.   It provides the space needed to develop him into the man I trust he will become one day.

My older son and I

My older son and I

With my 17 year old I don’t physically wrestle anymore (thank God) but we wrestle…believe me, we wrestle.  Emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, and being 17 he pushes back and tests boundaries in different ways.

But he is my son and is free to question me about anything!  

And it’s the time spent with me (and their mother of course) that helps both my children see their identity as sons in this family. Their position is not less if they say or do the wrong thing.  In fact, it becomes even more secure when they see they are still held in the same place of esteem regardless.

In Genesis 32:22 Jacob wrestles with God all night and the result is he is blessed and given a new identity.  It was pushing and pulling back and forth with the Creator of the Universe, the Alpha and the Omega, that transformed Jacob into Israel.

Who he was created to be!

So when I see Christians defending the Angry Boss God it makes me wonder, “Have they ever wrestled with their Abba Father?”

Where does their identity come from?  Why do they defend the indefensible?  If they wrestled with God they would know him.

And thats why when Christians like John Piper try to explain how God would slaughter men, women, and children because, you know, he’s God and he can do that sort of thing I can respectfully reply, “No, he wouldn’t because I know my Father.”





Bernie Sanders Does A John the Baptist At Liberty University


“A voice crying in the wilderness”  

That is what could be said of Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders recent speech at Liberty University this week.  First I give kudos to Liberty University for being willing to break with it’s historical track record; a track record that seemingly only invited and promoted political candidates who were of the same political / religious tribe.  For the conservative evangelical Liberty University to bring in the Jewish Democratic – Socialist Bernie Sanders was certainly blazing a trail founder and Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell probably had not even dared imagine.

On the flip side Sanders has once again shown himself to be a candidate that resonates with a growing segment of America that is wearied with political partisan nonsense.  By going to speak at a university filled with people whose tribe conditions them to resist and antagonize folk like Bernie Sanders, the Independent senator from Vermont again demonstrates he is willing to build bridges with whoever is willing to help restore America, and the world, into a better home for humanity.

“I understand that the issues of abortion and gay marriage are issues that you feel very strongly about. We disagree on those issues. I get that. But let me respectfully suggest that there are other issues out there that are of enormous consequence to our country and in fact to the entire world that maybe, just maybe, we do not disagree on and maybe, just maybe, we can try to work together to resolve them.” Watch Bernie Sanders complete remarks at Liberty University here: http://cs.pn/1EXH2Sy

Posted by C-SPAN on Monday, 14 September 2015

As you watch the video it’s interesting to note the level of applause he receives from the students.  Sure, some “Bernie supporters” are there to support their man.  But mostly that applause is coming from the students and it gives me hope.

Hope that there is a new generation evangelical Christians who can recognize and respond to a Jewish man who cries out for justice and compassion; to make the crooked way straight, and the bumps in the road level.

A voice crying in the wilderness, “Make straight the Way of the Lord”



Why “Jesus Saves”? Like, What’s The Point?


Beyond the Pale regulars know that the idea of salvation, and what it means to be saved, keeps coming up here.  (Meaning I spend way to much time thinking about it :) )

In the last couple years though I’ve had many engaging conversations with great folk, sometimes with Bibles, sometimes over beers, but more often, and notably more rewarding, with a combination of the two.

People have a lot of different ideas about who Jesus is.

  • Some think he is the Son of God
  • Some think he is a prophet
  • Some think he is a great teacher and example
  • and some don’t even believe he existed

Whether the 1st century or the 21st century, people are pretty much the same because when Jesus asked Peter the same question, he pretty much got those same answers in Matthew 16:

When Jesus arrived in the villages of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some think he is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

See, little has changed.  Peter is basically saying, “Hey, the people hold you in pretty high regard.  They think you’re like one of the great prophets they always heard about.  You’re doing great!”


But Jesus didn’t let it lie there.  Like all things Christ did, there was a much deeper meaning in his words and actions.

 He pressed them, “And how about you? Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am.

Here’s the thing.  Jesus seems pleasantly surprised by Peter’s answer. Peter really could have answered like others around him seem to answer; that he was a great teacher, prophet, and all ’round cool dude to hang with.

And you know what?

Jesus would have been OK with that…

It’s funny how less uptight Jesus is when people think he is “just a great moral teacher” than many Christians get when they hear the same.  Jesus’ response to his disciples upon hearing the people’s view of him is not one of indignation or compulsion.  He didn’t exclaim, “What??  They only see me as a prophet??  A good teacher ? Don’t they believe I’m the Son of God? Quick, go convince them I am.  Form a street drama, dance team, evangelism troop, something, ANYTHING, and get them to confess me as the Christ. Don’t they realize they could get hit by a bus (ok, back then maybe a mule & wagon), die in their sins, and spend an eternity separated from God in torment?”


Jesus is way more secure in his identity, and the grace that flows from it, than many of his followers.  What makes Jesus excited about Peter’s proclamation is not a triumphalist satisfaction that he finally “gets it” and comes to see him as God.  Rather it’s the joy that Jesus has, and that he has with all who see him as he really isin getting to reveal to us who we really are! 

And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.

“And that’s not all. You will have complete and free access to God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven.”

Jesus came to show us who God is and what he is really like…and the result is we get to see ourselves who we really are; without the masks and pretentious fronts we tend to wear so effortlessly we often forget we even have them on.  The salvation that flows from that revelation is the understanding that we are his children.  We are not orphans.  What Jesus is saying to Peter he is saying to all those who follow Him.  You are given the power to help make it “on earth as it is in heaven.”  To seal the breech between the two.   And though the gates of hell rage with human slavery, child abuse, war, disease, greed, gossip, Donald Trump, and the Kardashians …


He won’t prevail!

…those things will not win in the end because you have the keys that bring healing and restoration to the world.

When we see who we really are, we are “saved”, “being saved”, and able to bring that “salvation” to the world.

And what if Peter had not seen Jesus as Christ at that moment but “just a good moral teacher”?  Do we really think Jesus would have loved him less?  Or perhaps moved on to another disciple whose heart was more open to the truth! 

I highly doubt it…

No, Jesus would put his arm around Peter, have a meal together and continue to share his life with his friend

As he does, and will continue to do, with everyone!