As an eighth grader, I had no clue the work Julie the senior had put in to earn her letters, patches and medals. I just saw the highlight real. I had no clue about day after day after month after year of practices, hours before and after school, preparing herself for the championship moments. I was impatient to just get to the championship moments for myself.
But luckily for him, he was close to Jesus. Each time he messed it up, got ahead of himself, looked for Jesus to do things the way he, Peter, thought… He had Jesus discipline him into understanding his own identity in Christ.
See, it can never be about coveting an identity, it has to be about a covenant identity.
This is beautifully illustrated in Matthew 16 as Peter receives the revelation that Jesus is the Son of God:
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” —Matthew 16:17–18
Jesus gives him the name “little rock” (Peter, when translated from the Greek word Petras, means “little rock”). At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, in the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builder, Jesus refers to himself as the Petra … the “big rock.” Jesus is the big rock; Peter is the little rock. Jesus is sharing his covenant identity with Peter as a partner with God.
Yet only a few verses later, after having taken Jesus aside to suggest that he stop speaking about dying in Jerusalem, Peter is massively challenged:
“You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” —Matthew 16:23
So maybe the challenges they were about to face, the ones WE face, are part of forming our covenant identity in Christ.
Jesus is inviting his followers into an intimate relationship with him while also initiating a direct challenge to behaviors he knew were either wrong or unhealthy.
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” —Matthew 16:24–25
It’s against what we’re taught – losing something to find it. But when we strip away all of those ideas, concepts, labels, that we get from everywhere else – when we stop trying to wear someone else’s faded letterman… We can find our true identity.
For too long I tried to create an identity for myself based on someone else, rather than the God who knows ME, created ME, and has plans for ME. Don’t look at my life and think it was or is an easy road. And I can’t look at yours and assume the same, either.
God wants to be in a covenant relationship with you. And if you’re willing to walk in that relationship, He will also give you a covenant identity that has nothing to do with anyone else, and is even better than you could imagine looking at someone else’s life.
Besides being sin (see the 10 commandments), coveting an identity is unfulfilling! No one else’s coat will ever fit you the way that your own will.
Have you ever desired the life someone else had instead of seeking your own?