Getting Out of God's Way
Imagine that there is an apartment building on fire. There are people trapped inside, and the fire is getting worse every second. We hear the sirens of a fire truck approaching and we feel a sense of relief as the firemen get out and approach the building. Help has arrived. But before they are able to enter the building, someone stops them, pulls them aside, and tells them that the situation is too dangerous. They might lose their lives. What would the firemen say? “Get out of the way! This is our job. We know the consequences. Every second we waste talking to you is one less second we have to save those who are trapped inside!”
We wouldn’t think very highly of anyone who tried to prevent firemen from saving those who were trapped in a burning building. But we often find ourselves hindering the work that needs to be done in our relationship with Jesus.
In Matthew 16:21-23, when Jesus began showing His disciples that He must suffer, die, and rise again in order to save them, Peter took Him aside and rebuked Him. Peter was hindering Jesus from getting the job done. So what was Jesus’ response? “Get out of the way, Satan!”
Peter had his own selfish plans for Jesus and it blinded him to God’s much bigger, better plan of salvation. We do the same when we choose our own selfish plans for our friendships, dating relationships, marriages, families, careers, education, etc.
So how do we get out of God’s way so that He can truly help us and fulfill His much bigger and better will in our lives? We get out of God’s way by...
God’s wisdom and understanding far exceeds our own (Romans 11:33). We need to trust that what He has revealed in His word is for our good, always, even if obedience means suffering physically or emotionally for a time (James 5:11).
Speaking of suffering, right after Jesus rebukes Peter in Matthew 16:23, he goes on to explain that those who want to follow Him must “deny himself and take up his cross” (Matthew 16:24-28). Picking up a cross doesn’t simply mean “bearing a burden” for a period of time. If someone was carrying a cross back then it meant that they were being executed. Our old self of sin needs to die through baptism (Romans 6).
Having been united with Christ we need to remember every day that our lives are not our own. We live with Him, and in Him, and by faith in Him. And He lives in us. (Romans 6:5-11; Galatians 2:20).
Peter hindered Jesus’ work because he was not “setting [his] mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Our minds need to be constantly renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit through the word that He has revealed. We need to develop the mind of Christ by practicing humility and serving one another self-sacrificially (Philippians 2:1-11).
This mindset, and the path it leads us down, may prove to be difficult and filled with suffering, but we are in good company because that was Jesus’ path to glory. In that, we can rejoice with Paul because we too want to attain to the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 1:29; 3:8-11).
So how do we get out of God’s way so that He can rescue us from death and continue the work He began in us (Philippians 1:6)? We need to trust Him, follow Him, live for Him, and think like Him.