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Bogus Penalties!

Those of you that know me know that I am a BIG football fan. I have loads of Alabama shirts, hats, socks, etc - at last count, I had over 40 shirts. Like I said - I'm a BIG fan. I love college football, and I'm on the road to liking pro football more again. Today, Facebook reminded me of a post I made last year after the Super Bowl, and I was surprised at how similar it is to this year:

"Lots of people are complaining about halftime shows and bogus defensive penalties in the last minute of a game. I just want to complain that there’s no more football until Spring!"

Some things never change!

As this year's big game neared the end, our two opponents were locked into a 35-35 tie...until there was one of those "bogus" penalties that impacted the outcome of the game (instead of letting the players do that). I thought about the guy who committed that penalty and how some people will blame him for this huge mistake. They'll spend the rest of their sporting life shaming him for messing up. It won't matter what he does from here on out; they'll remember him for what he did wrong.

Some people are like that when we sin, but I'm sure glad Jesus isn't like that! In John 21, this incredible Gospel is coming to an end. Peter has already denied Jesus three times. If you remember, that's when Jesus was tried and eventually crucified and risen from the grave. If you remember, that's when Peter probably felt so much shame and guilt and regret for what he had done wrong. He probably heard the sneering and jeering from people when he walked by and wondered how he could ever be known for something other than his failure - that's how they penalized him. But that's when Jesus showed up again, and what they talked about changed Peter forever.

When Peter heard Jesus was out on a boat, he jumped into the water without even thinking about it. If he had time to rehearse his speech, he might've thought about how he would plead for a second chance. Instead, Jesus invited him to come and eat with him. And then John said this:

"When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ' Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?' 'Yes, Lord,' he said, 'you know that I love you.' (John 21:15)

Jesus went on to ask him the same question three times, and Peter gave him the same answer each time. Some people think he did this to help him make up for denying him three times, and maybe that's true. But the point I want to make is this: even though Peter messed up, Jesus lifted him up. And at the end of that conversation, Jesus gives him that second chance by giving him some marching orders - he was going to be in charge of feeding and take care of His sheep. I can't think of a better second chance opportunity than that.

Peter would grow into his new role, being empowered by the Holy Spirit to speak to and lead (feed and care for) the sheep as the Shepherd that God called him to be. God didn't want him to forget his sin, but He wanted him to live like he was forgiven from it. That's what He wants from the rest of us as well!

The next time you mess up and do what you weren't supposed to do or don't do what you were supposed to do, remember that you are not defined by how you messed up. God defines who we are by looking at who we can become once He changes us. He changed Peter, and He can change you too! I don't know if He will change the outcome of next year's game, but I know for certain that He wants to change us. He wants us to spend some time praying and confessing the wrongs we have committed, and then He wants us to spend time living forgiven and free from what we did.

The best way for us to live like that is to have a little talk with Jesus like Peter did - we call that prayer. So go ahead, admit and confess whatever it is you have done wrong. And then go ahead and see how He forgives you and restores you and puts you back into the game because He knows you'll handle it differently the next time you have a chance!

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1 commentaire

Membre inconnu
14 févr. 2023

Amen! That is liberating truth!

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