Unintended Consequences

unintendedMatthew 16:23 “Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

From the war on terror to the war on poverty…good intentions can run amuck when we look at life solely from man’s perspective rather than God’s.

I think that’s why Jesus rebuked Peter so strongly. Jesus had told the disciples he was going to be killed at the hands of the high priests and elders. Peter bristled at such injustice and proclaimed it would never happen. Not on his watch!  No doubt Peter’s love for Jesus drove him. He wanted to help Jesus avoid any kind of suffering. But his protests were Satan’s guise to tempt Jesus to circumvent the hard work of completing God’s will and instead save himself. Had Peter succeeded (or Satan through him)…the unintended consequences would have been astronomical.

Peter unwittingly played right into Satan’s hands. Satan used natural “human concerns” to appeal to Peter’s sense of right and wrong…..Jesus didn’t deserve to die. He shouldn’t be the victim of an unjust religious system. Peter’s indignation kept him from seeing the bigger picture: the wrong was necessary for the right.

When our perspective originates from “merely human concerns”—without God’s—unintended consequences result. Like the erosion of our faith. If we think as Peter did that we or our loved ones should never be the brunt of injustice or the victim of others’ sin, we can end up in a whirlwind of despair. Scripture tells us all things work together for good for those who love God. We can bank on it. The problem comes if we determine what the good looks like. That’s when our thinking becomes a stumbling block.

We never have to worry about unintended consequences when we act from God’s vantage. “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight” (1 Corinthians 3:9). We can’t let our zeal for justice, empathy for the hurting or even self-preservation cloud our perspective. The wisdom of the world never tells us we must lose our life to save it. The wisdom of God says we must. Our daily adherence to this carries intended consequences—the eternal kind.

So don’t be overwhelmed with human concerns. Trust God. Look for his perspective in your relationships and your work, in triumphs and in tragedies.

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