Monday, April 13, 2009

Sibling rivalry

Today’s Reading: John 21:20-21 (NIV)

20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one, who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

Good morning!

I distinctly remember trying to focus the center of attention on my little sister whenever we would get caught in a squabble at home. Our Pammy, the feisty one, instigated many of our spats. She liked to pick on me and I passed the blame to her just as fast as I could. I could be pretty sneaky, and occasionally would play a practical joke or two and not be suspected; at least not at first. Sibling rivalry tends to reveal itself when children are caught in something they shouldn’t have said or done.

My mother used to tell this true story on her younger brothers. They grew up in the country, on a small cotton farm nestled between some very tall pine trees, lots of dense kudzu, and a fishing pond that you could see just a few yards from the back porch. In the hot and sticky summertime, the boys would catch colorful lizards hopping around in the cool shade of that porch. If you squeeze a lizard just right, their mouths will open up and they will latch on to your flesh. The boys would sneak up behind their little sisters and attach a traumatized lizard to an unsuspecting ear lobe, laughing and teasing the girls’ about their pretty new earrings, while watching them squeal and jump around in utter fright.

We can see the evolution of culture throughout the generations, and yet, this one thing has never changed. Jesus predicts how Simon Peter will die because of his rock solid faith in the Lord. Peter is surprised at this new revelation, and reacts like every brother I know. He becomes indignant at Christ’s announcement. Looking around, he focuses his attention on the disciple whom Jesus loved (scholars believe this is most likely John). Simon Peter asks a pointed question, “What about him, Lord?” Jesus’ replies, “What business is it of yours?”

We must be careful not to pin personal faith to the shirt tails of our parents, friends, and the Christian men and women whom we most admire. Jesus was clear when He said, “You must follow me.” There is no underlying competition going on here, no sibling rivalry at play. This is the one time that we must focus on who we are in Christ, regardless of the soul condition of our brothers and sisters. No amount of teasing, joking or blaming each other will make any difference when we are called to answer Christ. Faith is a gift. Jesus offers it freely to all who seek Him. It is up to each of us whether we will ask and receive the gift and then choose to live it out in our daily lives. No amount of prodding, chiding, or blaming each other will help us when we lay our life account at the foot of the cross.

Only you can make this choice. Not your brother, not your sister: only you will decide whom you will serve, even if it means laying your life down. Jesus Christ is alive! He carried your just punishment to the cross, so that you could live with Him forever. Ask Him for His gift of faith today.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO


© Copyright 2009, Deb Spaulding

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