A few years ago, I watched a movie about a US president who came under media scrutiny when a friend of his was involved in a scandal. All of his advisors urged him to deny the friendship in an attempt to divert attention away from his association with an accused criminal. But one advisor gave him the key to stopping the accusations dead in their tracks when he said “Tell them he’s not only your friend, he’s your good friend.”
The next time a microphone was shoved in his face by a news team asking about his friendship with a suspected felon, he confidently stated “He’s not just my friend. He’s my very good friend.”. And that was the end of that.
In the gospel of Luke, we read about Peter, who denied three times that he knew Jesus. Every time someone questioned him, he became more vehement. His denials just added to people’s suspicions and strengthened their accusations. When he finally felt the weight of his betrayal, he was overcome with remorse and wept bitterly.
We Christians stand at a crossroad on a regular basis. We can either choose to minimize our faith in God in an attempt to fly under the world’s radar, or we can state with quiet confidence that yes, we are followers of Christ, and leave it at that.
The story of Peter teaches us that denying our faith leaves behind regret, a broken relationship with God, and the risk of being exposed as a liar. It’s not a popular thing in our society to be a Christian, unless it’s just a title that you wear only when it’s safe.
But what about in the eleventh hour, when your personal safety and comfort are on the line, and you stand the chance of being exposed as something different and unpopular? Would you, like Peter, curse and proclaim “I never knew the man!”, and then face the shame of your own betrayal? Or would you stand, confident and sure, and confess that yes, you are a follower of Christ?
Two years ago, a bus full of Christians was stopped by religious terrorists in Egypt. Twenty-nine passengers were taken from the bus, one by one, and given the chance to renounce their faith. Not one of the twenty-nine, including children, did. All of them were shot and killed on the spot.
We don’t face that degree of persecution here in Canada. We have the freedom to live openly as Christians. When we are given the opportunity to affirm our faith, do we answer with as much confidence and clarity as those Coptic Christians did, or, like Peter, do we live with the shame of our own denial?