January 11, 2019

Volatility

By: Larry Shaffer

Volatility

John 18 

Two times in this chapter, Jesus says, I AM who you say I am. Three times in this chapter, Peter says, I am not, who you say I am. 

Then the slave girl who kept the door said to Peter, ‘You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you? He said, ‘I am not.’ 

Now the slaves and the officers were standing there, having made a charcoal fire, for it was cold and they were warming themselves…Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, ‘You are not also one of His disciples, are you? He denied it, and said, ‘I am not.’ 

One of the slaves of the high priest, being a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off, said, ‘Did I not see you in the garden with Him?’ Peter then denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed. 

The volatility of Peter has always been an interesting study of mine. He tells Jesus He will die with Him; Jesus tells Peter He will be a rock in his service to Jesus; with great courage, Peter pulls out his sword and takes (misguided) action when the soldiers come to rescue Jesus…but then he denies he knows Jesus 3 times in a matter of a few minutes. What’s with that? 

Peter is passionate and volatile. He goes big whether it’s in a good way or a bad way. In my previous studies about the life of David, I found the same qualities; passionate and volatile. Nevertheless, God calls David a man after His own heart and Jesus calls Peter a rock. I don’t get it! 

If you know me personally, you know that I am fairly steady. There are others steadier and more consistent but on the overall steadiness continuum, I rank high. Being such a person, I of course, consider steadiness of life with minimal volatility, to be more Godly. Yes, I say that with a ‘tongue-in-cheek’ tone, but deep down, in somewhat of an arrogant way, I have always believed that. I fancy myself after the likes of Daniel or Joseph. Steady, diligent and always reliable. I’ve always considered steady and consistent as being ‘better’ than passionate and volatile. But I’m not sure that God sees it the same way. 

The biblical characters of David and Peter were just flat-out ‘all over the place.’ They were a hot-mess! But you know what, God LOVED them and God USED them. He loved them BIG and He used them BIG!!! Who am I to look down on passionate and volatile Christian brothers and sisters? I have no right to do so and God has humbled me significantly in this area. 

So, how should we handle Christians that sin big and seem to have volatile actions of passionate praise to God on one day and then big blunders the next day? Before I state that we should always embrace and forgive, and provide a license that justifies volatile action, let me share a very important characteristic that both Peter and David had. They both wept. They both repented with tears. They were passionate in their sin and they were passionate in their repentance. 

Christians that sin, then justify it are not the people I’m speaking about. Christians that sin and then push it down and hide it, that’s not who I’m speaking about. Christian that seem steady but have secret lives of sin, that’s not who I’m speaking about. 

God loves and uses both steady characters and passionate characters. He loves and uses steady disciples and he loves and uses volatile disciples. But the one characteristic that must always be present in order for God to use any of us? All of us should show humility, open and contrite repentance, honesty about our failures and a heart to do better in the future. That is what both Peter and David did.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8. Lord, regardless of our standing on the steadiness continuum, may we never judge others and may we always be kind and humble. Whether steady or volatile, in Your grace and in Your grace alone do we stand. Amen. 

When you have time, watch this video interview of two of the most influential Pastors over the last 40 years. One is the ultimate of example of steady and consistent and the other, passion and volatility. If you can’t watch the whole thing, go to 39:20 and watch for 5 to 10 minutes. When Piper responds to MacArthur, it is absolutely hilarious.