Anyone raised in a Christian church knows this story:
Matthew 26:33-35 (NIV)
33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.
Poor Peter – this story has been re-told millions of times. Yes, Peter denied Jesus but look at the situation – his world was turned upside down. He was confused, scared, in shock and in disbelief! At that point he didn’t know what was true and what was a lie. He feared for his life and didn’t know where to turn.
Fast forward 2,000 years. We as Christians have based our testimony on this – don’t ever deny your faith.
Matthew 10:33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
But a mad man comes into your school or church, points a gun to your head and asks you point blank: ‘Are you a Christian’? Do you stand for your faith knowing that you will be killed or do you wimp out and say “no” knowing that your life will be spared?
We have grown up with the teaching that not denying our faith is a the right answer; a testimony that may lead to the attackers salvation, a testimony to anyone else who is watching, and most important proving a bonded relationship with our Lord and Savior. We may lose our temporary life on earth but immediately enter into eternal blessing as a martyr.
I still agree with that but we have entered the realm of ‘madmen’ with guns who are often on killing sprees motivated by severe mental illness. These shooting sprees often end with the killer ending his own life – not turning to salvation by testimony.
My point – Does it show disregard to God to say “I’m not a Christian” to a madman determined to kill Christians? Does that statement destroy a relationship with God? Are we less faithful to want to live out our lives here? We have celebrated the victims who have stood by their faith but is that what Jesus would have really wanted?
If your daughter or son is faced with this horrible choice, do you want them to take a pass on early death (basically lying and for a moment denying their faith) or should they stand strong only to die? Even though you may be proud of them for standing their faith, doesn’t a part of you want them to lie and live? Is that wrong? Is that a cop out on God?
This denial was not the downfall for Peter. It did not end his relationship with Jesus but it may have made him stronger and more faithful. In the end, he did die a martyr but it was by his choice to stand with Jesus.
We may all face a day when we need to stand for our faith or deny it. I am ready to take that stand but is it wrong to deny it in the face of shock and madness? I hope we never have to decide.