A few weeks ago I was reading Mark 8, and I came across a story I’ve heard a million times about Jesus rebuking Peter. Jesus is walking with his disciples, Peter has just confessed that he recognizes that Jesus is Christ, and Jesus is telling his disciples what will happen next.
“And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Mark 8:34)
Wait. Don’t skip past that too fast. Let that settle in: “For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.“
Even then, the disciples had a problem with being Kingdom-focused, so it’s not a wonder that we do today as well. Jesus had to constantly remind the disciples that He wasn’t referring to Earthly things when He spoke. He shows us throughout the Gospels that being Kingdom-focused wasn’t a suggestion, but a requirement to be able to do His work. He made that very known in verse 34: “But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter.” I truly believe in that moment Jesus had a “big brother” moment. Peter spoke. He recognized Peter’s influence with the disciples. He turned and looked at the disciples. He recognized that Satan knew the influence that Peter has as well. He could have spoken only to Peter (remember, Peter had pulled Him aside), but Jesus, being fiercely protective of all of the disciples’ Kingdom focus, used this as a moment to address how Satan will use what is seemingly bad as a reason to keep us from looking to Jesus.
Our human minds have a hard time comprehending anything that doesn’t benefit us. We do anything to avoid pain. We blame everything on the devil, and sometimes we can’t wrap our minds around the possibility that God may just lead us into something that will blow up because He has a greater purpose. Yet, here Jesus is CLEARLY stating that yes, sometimes, brokenness is the will of God for our lives, and for the purposes He will have us to walk in. We have to take our minds off of what looks and feels good to us.
“And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever will save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:35)
Man, it’s one thing to say, “I’ll follow you, Christ.” It’s another to say, “Regardless of the cost, my focus is deadset on the Kingdom of God being spread throughout the Earth. Even if it costs me everything: friendships, material things, being talked about, I will stand firm, and lean into what you’re doing right now, God.”
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)
Here’s the thing: We’ve never had to die on the cross for anyone. We can’t be focused on bringing glory to ourselves “for the sake of the Kingdom.”
- What if we prayed for someone to get out of a wheelchair, and didn’t give any thought to our pride if they didn’t?
- What if instead of being jealous of another ministry, we began to recognize and be grateful for the vision and execution of a God-vision saving a group of people that God hasn’t called us to?
- What if we went a week intentionally setting our needs aside, and praying for the needs of our friends on social media and their families?
So, I challenge each of us with this question: What is the Holy Spirit leading you to take your focus off of? What is preventing you from being Kingdom-focused?
I can guarantee one thing: You will not miss out on your own needs or promises. As we take care of Kingdom business, God will take care of ours.
Father, give us a new perspective. We thank you for the Holy Spirit at work in each of our lives, and we pray for greater wisdom moving forward. If we don’t know where to start, Holy Spirit, you do. We willingly surrender our focus to you, and we choose to live a life that doesn’t glorify self but glorifies and encourages the Kingdom of God. We say “It’s truly not about us being seen as ‘good Christians,’ but as one who moves in such humility and love, only wanting to further your Kingdom, that people will know YOU. We lay religion and rules aside, and we choose your perspective. As we begin to walk in this, teach us. Give us a higher perspective. Give us a greater love for your Kingdom, in whatever capacity it looks like. We love you. We thank you for what you’re doing on the Earth. We thank you for an even greater measure. Do it, Lord! In Jesus’ name.