Strong, Sturdy, Reliable…
I love the word grit because it reminds me of the word tenacity, which means persistent determination. It also reminds me of what the early Christians had to do to spread the Word of God and what Jesus preached, even against resistance from His own people. They had to be persistent but loving in their approach. One person who specifically comes to mind when thinking of the word tenacity is the disciple, Peter. Peter, known as Simon or as Jesus called him, Cephas, is an Aramaic word that translates to “stone.” This is why Peter is referred to as the “Rock.”
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matthew 16:17-18 (NIV)
Why did Jesus keep Peter so close? Why was Peter one of Jesus’ beloved disciples? In reading many commentaries, they all have one common denominator and that is that Peter was loved by Christ very much. Even though he was uncultured and prone to failure, he was adored. You see, Peter had HEART. A bit impulsive, but he had heart, grit, and tenacity. I believe these to be the reasons why Jesus chose him. He wasn’t polished, but that’s the irony of it all… that Jesus chose a man that was flawed. Doesn’t that describe us? We’re called to be made new in Christ, but we still live in an imperfect world. This causes us to fall occasionally, even as Christians.
Peter was the first disciple to recognize Jesus as the true Christ. He also was the only disciple that stepped out of the boat onto the water to walk towards Jesus. Yes, he started to sink because he lost courage, but he reached out to Jesus with child-like faith. Inadvertently, this is the same Peter who also denied Jesus three times on the eve of His crucifixion. Knowing what he did, Peter wept bitterly because of his betrayal. In fear, Peter also cut off the ear of a high priest’s servant because they had come to arrest Jesus and take him away.
Peter, like many of us, was passionate with a loving heart for Christ, but was still influenced by the world. Why? Although chosen by God, he was still human. I think Jesus chose Peter because he is relatable to us. Despite Peter’s failings, or perhaps because of them, he became the “Rock of the Church” and then was filled with the Holy Spirit at the Pentecost. Like Peter, we are commissioned to be fishers of men and that takes much tenacity, grit, determination, and the power of God living in each of us. Our calling to live a life for Christ will take every bit of tenacity that we have. It is a battle each day not to live life as the world does, but as God commands.
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the father is not in them. For everything in the world the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
1John 2:15-17 (NIV)
Like Peter, we’re called to keep our eyes focused on Christ; to drop our nets in faith, trusting that God will direct the catch. Was Peter perfect? Absolutely not. But he had a heart and tenacity for Christ. Will we be held accountable for our worldly choices? Of course we will. But take heart that we have a God that forgives our iniquities even though we don’t deserve it. Peter adored Christ and had a rapturous love for Him. Peter loved Him so much that he was willing to drop his nets of fish to catch nets of men. Discipleship is a matter of the heart, and we are called to be this for Christ. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said,
“In the final analysis, God does not judge us by separate incidents or the separate mistakes that we make, but by the total bent of our lives. In the final analysis, God knows that His children are weak and they are frail. In the final analysis, what God requires is that your heart is right.”
Despite Peter’s mistakes, the total course of his life was centered around Christ. And without the tenacity that God gave him as a gift, the course of his journey could have taken a different path. As we consider how to develop a tenacious love for God, let’s think through these important questions…
Self-Reflective Heart Check
1. Are you taking the time to learn about who God is and what He says?
2. Do you care more about what the world says or more about what God says?
3. Do you think of how you can serve others? If so, is your heart in it for the right reasons?
4. Are you in a Bible-based church?
5. Do you try to show others Christ through your words and actions?
While contemplating our current faith-walk, keep in mind that, like with Peter, God is molding our imperfections so we can best serve him. Moving forward, may Christ empower our steps so that we may journey through life with a tenacious heart for God.