Are You Working for the Right Kingdom?
But He [Jesus] turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's." (Matthew 16:23)
Wow! What a stern rebuke Jesus gave Peter. It is especially startling because it came on the heels of Jesus blessing Peter for giving the right answer to the critical question, "Who do you say I am?" (Matt.16:17). Peter went from hero to zero in the matter of a few short minutes. What was the problem? He was focused on the wrong kingdom and the wrong agenda.
When Jesus began to talk about His suffering and death, Peter was appalled. He thought that was a bad stump speech that needed to be discarded immediately. His rebuke of the Lord (can you imagine rebuking Jesus?) communicated this, "Listen Jesus, You are the Messiah! The Messiah goes to a throne, not to a tree! You are headed for a coronation, not a crucifixion. Quit talking about death and the cross and resurrection, whatever that means." Because Peter was setting His mind on man's interests (he had plenty to gain personally from Jesus taking the throne ASAP), he was doing the work of Satan and becoming a stumbling block to the Lord.
IT HAPPENS TODAY
I recently had the unpleasant experience of working with a couple of guys who had the same problem as Peter. They were so focused on what was expedient for the kingdom of self, that they could not nor would not see what was good for the kingdom of God. Tragically, they missed the will of God by a million miles because they were all wrapped up in the pitiful little kingdom of me, myself and I. That fleshly, selfish kingdom is always ruled by human reasoning and the fear of loss. Those in that kingdom walk by sight, not faith. They lean on their own understanding, rather than trusting in the Lord with all their hearts, as the Bible clearly commands (Prov. 3:5).
SEARCH YOUR HEART
Be honest, for which kingdom are you working? Are you really "all in" for the kingdom of God? Are you seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness? Are you willing to make decisions at work or at home or at church that may cost you personally so that Jesus Christ may be glorified? Are you seeking godly input to help you make wise, Holy Spirit led choices ... or are you listening to the voices of the faithless who will back you up in your quest to continue being king of your domain.
Let me encourage you, as I encourage myself. A life lived for the kingdom of self, with its focus on self-promotion, self-preservation and self-gratification is not worth living. If you exalt the kingdom of self, you can rest assured you will be humbled in very short order - just ask Peter. The kingdom of self is always destined for destruction.
Right after He sternly rebuked Peter, Jesus added these sobering words, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it" (Matt. 16:24-25). May you and I willingly and gladly lose our lives for the sake of Jesus Christ and His glorious kingdom. If we do, we will find a life in Him that is far beyond anything we could ask or think ... and it will last for all eternity.