If you read about Peter in the Gospels, you realize that he had many motivations for what he was expecting to get out of being a disciple. When the Lord told His disciples that it was necessary for Him to die in Jerusalem, Peter rebuked Him saying, “‘God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.’ But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s’” (Matthew 16:22-23).1 Later in his presumptuousness, Peter insisted, “Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You” (John 13:37). However, it was not long before the cock crowed, and Peter had denied the Master three times. Peter had his own agenda.
Peter had been a disciple. He had left everything and walked with Yeshua (Jesus) for many years. But if you read about Peter in the Gospels, you realize that he was doing a lot of what he wanted to do. Soon Peter would go to the upper room in Jerusalem and experience the Day of Pentecost. So Yeshua explained to him, “Look Peter, you are getting ready to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Once you are filled with the Spirit, you will go where you are led. Sometimes the Spirit will lead you where you do not want to be and expect you to do things that you do not want to do.”
“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go” (John 21:18).
Peter was as dedicated as any Christian, but that makes the point that Christianity is filled with this underlying drive and will to do what we want. Like Peter, when we were younger, we girded ourselves and went wherever we willed. We did whatever we wanted to do. We did a lot of it in the name of the Lord. Personally, I feel like I have lived my life doing the will of God. But believing that something is the will of God is different than being led by the Spirit of God.
Often we want to do the will of God, but we want to do it as we define it. People say, “Lord, You can fill me, but don’t go into this area of my life. You can lead me, but just not to any of the places on this list. I am willing to be a witness for Jesus as long as I can testify to rich and famous people who will give me big offerings. I will do Your will if I have a comfortable house and a happy family.” We are like Peter asking, “What will I have, therefore? Of course, I will be Your witness as soon as we work out this issue of what I get in return. You can lead me fully, as long as we agree that there are places You cannot take me. You can clothe me as long as I get to pick out the wardrobe.” We may be doing many mighty works, but are we doing the will of God? Lord, help us with this. I do not have to do it by myself. I can appropriate it from Christ who succeeded on this point and did the will of the Father (John 6:38).
1 All Scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible 1995 (NASB1995).