“For me…to die is gain” I wonder if Paul in his conversations with Peter in Jerusalem had talked about dying? I wonder if Peter told him about that experience recorded in John 21 when Jesus, after his resurrection, said to Peter, “When you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go” (John 21:18). Then John adds this explanation in his Gospel: “This [Jesus] said to show by which kind of death [Peter] was to glorify God. (John 21:19). God had decreed that Peter would make God look great in his dying.
And here’s my favorite part:
I don’t doubt that when Peter and Paul gave each other the right hand of fellowship, the manly grip of their hands and the meeting of their eyes communicated this one common passion: to magnify Christ crucified– the blazing center of the glory of God– even in death.
Don’t Waste Your Life, John Piper (pg. 66-67)
The only comparison I can think of is of a football team. In high school, football is war. Friday nights are battles– and the people who are in the trenches with you are lifelong war-buddies. To this day, when I see a friend that when to war with me Friday nights I feel a special connection. And even though I’m a basketball player, there’s something more enduring about football relationships. And I think it has something to do with the fact that football is more painful.
There is a shared passion and seriousness that battle demands– and there is a kind of joy and camaraderie that comes from fighting side-by-side. We literally depend on each other– not only for the outcome of the game but for the safety of our bodies. It costs when you fail. You appreciate it a little more when you succeed. The bond thickens.
There is laughter in the locker room; blood-earnestness on the field. I can look into a fellow-warrior’s eyes and know he feels what I do. That he needs me as much as I need him. And that we’re in it together.
The warfare that we wage as Christians is a million times for important than what happens Friday night. And potentially a million times more dangerous. Are we prepared for the clash? Do you have your war-buddies?