“If your race and culture, or your moral performance, or your politics, or anything but the love of God is the foundational source of your self-worth, when people threaten that positive self-image, you will not be able to listen to them or learn from them. You will strike at them.”- Timothy Keller
“For when I am weak, then I am strong.”- 2 Corinthians 12:10 (NIV)
Timothy Keller concludes his case study of Simon Peter in Chapter 7 of Hope in Times of Fear. Pastor Keller talks about two results produced by an identity based on superior performance over others, fragility and hostility.
1. Fragility – a deep insecurity and inability to see yourself. Peter had no sense of his danger, despite Jesus’s direct warning about his upcoming betrayal. Because when you base your self-worth on bravery, something happens when you look in your heart and see cowardice. You must screen it out and deny it to preserve your self. Thus, you lack self-awareness.
2. Hostility toward those who differ from you. Peter based his identity on being more enlightened and better than the infidels who come to arrest Jesus. That’s why Peter attacked the servant and cut off his ear. Hence, hostility always results when danger threatens a false identity.
Pastor Keller explains:
“If something threatens your one-dimensional, negative view of them, it shakes your very foundations. This is what brought Cain to kill Abel, and why Peter responded violently as well. Their false identity was shaken, and rather than give it another foundation, they lashed out at the people who were endangering it.”
In conclusion, Pastor Keller observes, Peter responds to Jesus in humble, loving repentance. And, in turn, Jesus instructs Peter to feed or take care of Jesus’s sheep – His people. Therefore, Jesus called Peter to leadership. Rather than a probationary status. In addition, Jesus invited Peter into a completely different type of identity, in which weakness connects you to God. Instead of your own strength.
Today’s question: Do you truly see the love of God as the foundational source of your self-worth? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “A customized deity we create ourselves”