Today I want to talk about the power and cost of transparency. This message is taken from Mark’s gospel chapter 8 where Jesus asks Peter who Peter believed Jesus was. This is a very famous passage that many people use to prove the divinity of Christ and although that is a very important part of this passage, the context of the passage has some other very important points that I want to share with you today. So take a journey with me and we will look at how Jesus not only was transparent about what He was about to face, but shared with everyone what we will face if we are to be sincere and dedicated followers of Him.
The power and cost of transparency shown in Mark 8:27-36
Mark 8:27-38 New King James Version (NKJV) Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ 27 Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, “Who do men say that I am?” 28 So they answered, “John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.” 30 Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him.
Jesus Predicts His Death and Resurrection 31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
Take Up the Cross and Follow Him 34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
The Christian journey starts with a revelation of who Jesus is.
Jesus asked Peter who He was. Peter started to answer by giving the responses of others but it is not important who others said He was, it was important for Peter to know who Jesus was. Jesus pins Peter down and says “Who do you say that I am?”. This makes it personal to Peter. He has to decide just like every person has to make the same determination for themselves. That is why God doesn’t have grandkids or just ethnic Christians. It doesn’t matter if you were born into a Christian family, you personally have to determine who Jesus was and if He is your messiah and savior or not. Along with that, in Matthew 16:16 and John 6:69 it says that Jesus is the son of the living God. It affirms that not only is He your savior, but He is your Lord. Everyone’s Christian journey starts at this same point. It is when you accept Jesus as your savior and lord that you are born again and begin a new life following Christ.
The Christian journey continues with a revelation of what Jesus has done for you.
Here is where the power of transparency comes in. Jesus tells them what is in front of Him. He doesn’t try to hide what is about to happen or to sugar coat it or make it palpable for them but He tells it to them straight. He is transparent about what He is about to face. This had and has the power of preparing them for what is to come. When we are not transparent in our lives and in what we are facing, then we lose the power that comes with transparency. I have learned that when I am transparent with people, both about my past, and about what I am struggling with in the present, it releases the power of God to not only encourage them that if God will do something for me about my situations, but it also releases a power that shows a God that works in my life presently. When we hide that, then we eliminate that very powerful force that God wants to use which I call the Immanuel principle. (God with us, God in us.) Jesus shared with them what He was facing and the fact that He could face it and that He was willing to walk forward into such a situation showed a faith and dependence on God that these guys had never seen before. It was powerful.
The Christian journey brings you to a point of following the example of Jesus.
This is where the cost of transparency comes in. I hope you see the tie in between Peter’s confession of Christ and then Jesus explaining what He was about to go through and then asking them to “follow” Him. Now Jesus did not mean that we were to all hang ourselves on a literal cross, but we were to follow His example of denying ourselves. That is why I am so adamant about certain teachings that promote self centered attitudes and indulging ourselves. They do not line up with following the example of Jesus. Jesus said to watch Him as He heads to His cross and follow His example. Now for some of us it may be giving up the luxuries of the world to go and share the gospel in a foreign country. For others it may be giving up having a secure income so that 1 parent can stay home to raise the kids. For others it may be giving up a lifestyle that is contrary to God’s moral law. Whatever it is, the Christian journey will bring you to a point of laying down your life. It will bring you to the point where you say “Not my will, but Yours be done Lord”. That is what it means to take up your cross and follow Jesus.
Are you sure you are a Christ Follower?
Recently there has been a fad going around the church that instead of calling yourself a Christian, people are calling themselves “Christ Followers”. I have to ask the question. If the reason you are calling yourself a Christ follower is because of the stigmatization of the term Christian and the ridicule that Christians get, are you really being a Christ follower? To be a Christ follower means to lay down your life, take up your cross and follow Him in His example of sacrifice. Everyday I ask myself the question, how can I follow the example of Jesus today? Many times it is just simple things like being faithful in the little things like pastoring a church for a small salary in a part of the nation that nobody wants to live in. Other times like the other day when I was interviewed by the Christian Post about “How should a church love a gay couple”, that I have to speak the truth in love no matter what the outcome personally might be. Some days it is loving someone who is not very lovable. Other days it is reaching out with a hand of forgiveness to somebody that neither wants it or asks for it. Always though, it has an element of sacrifice and dying to self in it.
So, I ask you this. Are you willing to follow Jesus? Are you ready to carry your cross no matter what the world or even other Christian may say or do? Are you willing to die to self and self protection in order that Christ may live in you?
Now that is something to think about!