What is your vision? Have you checked it lately?
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV)
If you have been following along with this year long study, your Vision for Christ should be closer to 20/20 than it was at the beginning of the year – and we have had quite a year to practice! If you recall, when we began our study, Peter was used as an example for how the word can district us, causing us to loose our focus on Christ, and sink beneath the waves. Think back over the past year; the coronavirus, lockdowns, hardships from the lockdown, elections, natural disasters, etc. Have you found yourself turning towards the Lord, relying on Him to help you keep calm during these difficult times? Do you see more reliance from yourself upon the Lord throughout the year, as your vision continues to grow closer to 20/20 Vision for Christ?
Let’s return to Peter. Where did his journey take him? Peter started as out a fisherman, a difficult, grueling, and dangerous job. When Jesus said, “Come, follow me,” (Mark 1:17a, NIV), Peter followed Jesus at once. Peter was an outspoken disciple, speaking before he thought. He was also perceptive, being the first disciple to recognize and call Jesus the Messiah (Mark 8:29), and was with Jesus during his transfiguration (Mark 9:2-13). Yet Peter also made mistakes, occasionally losing his Vision for Christ. He let the water swallow him (Matthew 14:22-33), denied Jesus three times (Matthew 26:69-75), and was slow to believe in Jesus’ resurrection (Luke 24:12).
Yet each mistake, each time Peter lost his focus, his vision for Christ, he came back stronger. Peter became one of the principle leaders of the early church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:7-11), writing at least two letters during his life that became part of the New Testament (I and II Peter). He was the first Apostle to preach the day after Pentecost, the day the Holy Spirit came (Acts 2:14-36). Peter continued to grow, continued to mature, continued to build his 20/20 Vision for Christ (Acts 9:32-11:18). He maintained his boldness and willingly suffered persecution, imprisonment, and beatings for upholding the last words of Jesus Christ, “…to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, NIV) And while his death is not recorded in the Bible, Christian tradition holds that he followed in the steps of many of the other Apostles and was martyred for his unwavering and unshakeable faith in Jesus Christ.
Peter was chosen as an example because his journey is one with which many can identify. We all make mistakes, we all become distracted, we all falter. The difference is how we respond. Do you rebound, refocus, and continue to move forward in your relationship with Christ, as Peter did? No mistake is too great! Peter denied Jesus! Peter chose to save himself and deny the truth of what he knew out of fear! Jesus forgave Peter of his sins, just as He forgives us of our sins. Peter did not dwell on the sins of his past. He moved forward, keeping his vision on Jesus Christ, just as we should. If Peter had dwelled on his past sins, would he have been able to overcome them and become one of the premier leaders in the early church? If we keep our focus on our past mistakes, we will miss the plan the Lord has for us! 20/20 Vision for Christ requires letting go of our past, once we have sought forgiveness.
With one crazy year coming to a close, and another about to begin, The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries, Inc., encourages you to continue to develop your 20/20 Vision for Christ. Perhaps there are other parables you wish to study. Great! Or perhaps with your new and deeper understanding of the teachings of Jesus, there is another book of the Bible that has challenged you in the past to which you want to return. Great! Perhaps you have another plan. Great! The choice is yours! But remember to keep your eyes alway affixed on the Lord Jesus Christ.