These 2 Words Don’t Belong Together: “Never, Lord!”

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Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Matt. 16:22 NIV

Lord Jesus, if an oxymoron is the joining of incongruous terms—like deafening silence, jumbo shrimp, planned spontaneity, or peace offensive—then the ultimate oxymoron is “Never, Lord!” Those two words just don’t belong together, ever. Yet, like Peter, we often match them up.

When you tell us our need of salvation is so great our only hope is the gospel of God’s grace—yet we persist in trying to work and deserve our way into heaven, we pull you aside, rebuke you, and say, “Never, Lord! You haven’t done quite enough. Your cross and our works should be enough to please God.”

When you assure us, your grace is sufficient for our hard stories and struggles, and that in our weakness your strength is made perfect, yet we persist in fear and unbelief, we say to you, “Never, Lord! Your grace won’t be quite enough for us. God helps those who help themselves.”

When you call us to live and love missionally—to hoard less and be more generous with the least and the lost, yet we persist in living little narratives of personal peace and fulfillment, our actions declare, “Never, Lord! Your glory is not as important as our comfort and happiness.”

When you command us to forgive others as you’ve forgiven us, yet we hold on to resentment and bitterness, in essence, we are saying, “Never, Lord! You don’t understand how much they hurt me. I’m worthier of your mercy and grace than they are.” Forgive us, Jesus; forgive and free us.

“Yes!” A thousand times “Yes!” to whatever you have said, have promised, and have purposed for our lives. When we resist and dismiss your will for us, take us aside and rebuke us with your compelling love—hourly if necessary, Lord. So very Amen we pray, in your most wonderful and awe-worthy name.

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