When does fear masquerade as faith?
When we do something that “appears” bold as a reaction to fear, it’s really just stupidity that we blame on faith.
Consider the Apostle Peter. We tend to look at his faithless moment as being his three denials of Christ, but I think his faithlessness showed up just before this.
Jesus and his disciples were in the Garden of Gethsemane. His prayer was interrupted by a hostile crowd. They’d come to arrest Jesus, led to this spot by Judas, the betrayer.
It appears Peter responded to the situation with great courage. He took out his sword and cut off the ear of Malchus. Jesus told Peter to put away the sword and then reattached Malchus’ ear.
But was this an act of courage? Was it bravery? I’d always looked at it as misguided bravery, but I don’t think it was.
We read that along with Judas, the Chief Priests and their officers, the Pharisees, the Scribes and the elders of the people, there was a “detachment of troops” that was sent to arrest Jesus.
A full Roman cohort would be 1000 men, but usually it consisted of 600, sometimes as little as 200 men. So imagine all the Jewish authorities and their officers being accompanied by 200 Roman soldiers as they squared off with Jesus and His small band of followers.
Wow! Now that makes Peter’s actions look even more brave. But who did he attack? Did he fight back against the fierce Roman soldiers? No! Did he fight back against the officers, the trained Jewish guards sent with the Chief Priests? No! Did he fight back against the politically powerful Chief Priests, Pharisees, Scribes or elders? No!
Peter attacked Malchus, the High Priest’s servant. He attacked the secretary, the administrative assistant, a likely unarmed slave. Could he have picked an easier, less threatening target? It looks like he picked a fight he knew he would win. He picked on the “little guy.” Is that courage? Is that faith?
Peter acted out of fear, not faith! That fear would manifest itself again when he would soon deny even knowing his Savior.
Sometimes it takes more faith to do nothing, to wait… especially when we have a driven, “act now – ask questions later” personality like Peter. Activity driven by fear seldom produces lasting, God glorifying kingdom fruit. So before I act, it’s time for a gut check. Faith or fear? Which is driving me right now?
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