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Friday, February 19, 2016

Change Agent – Part 7 – The Process

What can we learn from Peter’s experience?  Is there a pattern, a process, a principle that we can extract from this?  I am not sure that this is hard and fast, but it seems to be something to which God may continue to respond.  I see seven steps that Peter went thorough on this journey:
Change Agent – Part 7 – The Process
  1. Prayer – it starts here.  Peter was praying.  Not just cursory prayer.  This was a habit.  He was following the example of Jesus, drawing away from people to spend time in prayer.  It seems to me that if we are to be changed in our understanding of God in a way that not only gives us a more accurate understanding of His will and ways, but impacts our communities of faith, we have to be about the business of consistent and persistent prayer.
  2. Revelation/Illumination/Leading – In the midst of Peter’s prayer God reveals an area of his life that need correction.  Something that Peter was convinced was right, but was wrong.  Peter’s prayer put him in a place where he was receptive to the instruction.
  3. Struggle – When we encounter data or experience that is counter to what we believe it creates dissonance.  We do not like dissonance.  We want things to line up.  In many cases we will discredit the data or experience, or discredit the messenger.  Peter did not do either.  He struggled with what the Lord was showing him.  It was completely counter to what he understood.  Rather than ignore it or chalk it up to some random thought, he embraced the dissonance that it caused in his thinking.  He puzzled over what he saw.  I might suggest that it was the prayer that put him in the frame of mind and heart to not turn away.
  4. Obedience – In the midst of the struggle, Peter acted on what he saw.  He did not just intellectually accept what the Lord was showing him.  He followed through with action.  He went with the men.  He went against what he thought was right.  He went based on what God showed him.
  5. Experience – Peter then heard the testimony of Cornelius and saw the Holy Spirit descend on the Gentiles as it had on him.  He saw that what God was telling him was in fact true.
  6. Testimony – When Peter was confronted by those who held the same incorrect beliefs that he had held, he shared what had happened.  He had authority as an apostle, as one who had been with Christ for three years, as the one who spoke for the group at Pentecost.  He did not use that authority.  He shared what had happened to him and what he had seen.
  7. Change – the result?  Peter’s perspective was changed, at least the change had begun.  But also the Church was changed.  The understanding of the Church up to this point was that this was to be a Jewish movement.  Peter’s testimony altered the understanding of the Church.  The change was immediate but not complete but it was the first major step.
There is a lot more in this passage.  But the things that move me here are twofold.  First, this all starts with prayer.  If I am to walk with God aright, I must be, as Paul puts it in his epistles, always in prayer.  Second, I have been in many conversations over the past years about issues in the Body, the country, the world.  We are not called to sit as spectators and observe what is happening around us.  We are called to be salt, light, in a word, change agents.  It seems to me that in order to do answer that call, we must first be in prayer.

Posts in this series:
Change Agent - Part 6
Change Agent - Part 5
Change Agent - Part 4
Change Agent - Part 3
Change Agent - Part 2
Change Agent - Part 1