We will argue to prove our point. We will refuse to budge from our position because we think we are right. We can even become obnoxious insisting that our reasoning is sound, our point is valid, and our position is correct. In the process of proving ourselves right, we can become very wrong.
The apostle Peter is our great biblical poster child for this kind of behavior. The ultimate example of Peter having the correct words while being very wrong occurred at Caesarea Philippi when he confessed Jesus:
[Jesus asked,] “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Messiah” (Mark 8:29).
Peter, of course, was right. Jesus was on earth as the Son of God, the Christ, the Messiah of Israel, and Savior of the world. Jesus was, and still is, “the Messiah.”
Peter’s mistake wasn’t his answer, but his understanding and his attitude. Immediately after Peter’s right answer, we find his very wrong, arrogant overreaction to Jesus’ explanation of his future sacrifice:
[Jesus] then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him (Mark 8:31-32).
Peter couldn’t imagine God’s Messiah dying. He certainly couldn’t imagine Jesus, his Messiah, dying on a cross in shame and degradation while bearing the curse of the cross (Galatians 3:13). A big part of Peter being wrong was bound to the apostles’ selfish desires to have places of honor in Jesus’ victorious Messiah’s court (Mark 9:33-35; Mark 10:35-37). While Peter and the apostles were good guys, they were also a lot like us: they were looking to be important, to have lives that matter, and to make a difference in the world. They were looking for status, power, and position!
Jesus’ upside down kingdom, however, isn’t built by self-seeking accomplishment. Jesus reminded the disciples who would one day change the world, that true greatness comes from self-sacrifice, not self-seeking accomplishment:
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
We are never right simply because we have the right answer: we must treat people in ways that are consistent with how Jesus treated them. That doesn’t mean we give up our values to get along. That does mean we reach out to others, serving them first and giving of ourselves to bring them to Jesus. We know we can never “be right” by simply having the right answers. We are only right when we treat people as Jesus did:
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:Who, being in very nature God,(Philippians 2:5-11).
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father