God's interests and ours
"But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men"(Mat.16:23).
Many of us fail to understand the fact that there is an immense difference between the interests of God and ours. We assume that we somehow naturally share the same aims, desires and purposes as God, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Was the Lord being unnecessarily harsh on Peter? Not at all. Instead, he was teaching him, the other disciples and us something very important. That he referred to Peter as "Satan" (i.e. Adversary) tells us that though our intentions may often be good, if we are not perceiving and thinking with the mind of Christ, we can begin thinking and acting like his adversary in opposing that which is his very will.
He also called him an offence (stumbling block) - something set in the way to deter, delay or deny progress - which is what we can inadvertently become by not understanding God's ways, and instead advocating and pursuing our own. In so doing we can cause both ourselves and others to stumble and bring reproach to the name of Christ.
Now do we think that Peter purposely intended to try to thwart the will of God? Of course not. He thought that he was doing quite the opposite. He had no idea how blind, ignorant and far removed from the purposes of God he really was, and often nor do we.
At times we plead with God in prayer, endeavouring to convince him to change course and do what is best, in our opinion. We invest money and time and effort into programs and enterprises which we feel sure will attract the blessing and support of God, and simply cannot understand why we seem to have to push it ever more uphill. Perhaps without even being conscious of it we think in our hearts that if only God would come around to our way of thinking things could work so much more smoothly.
There is nothing natural about being in step with God, for “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1Cor.2:14). If we are to mind the things of God, it will require us to think with the mind of Christ – “For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ” (1Cor.2:16).
So ultimately it comes down to a choice: our way or God's way; our thoughts or God's thoughts. No amount of human effort on our part can ever enable us to achieve parity with the mind of God, for he tells us, ““For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa.55:8-9).
Eventually Peter understood this, and God was able to transform him into a man well pleasing to him.
Until we make God's interests ours, we will find ourselves fighting the wrong battles and expending much energy upon that which is in fact directly contrary to what God desires. Our finite minds simply are not equipped to know the will of God accurately. Acknowledging this is the first step. The next is to be “…bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2Cor.10:5). Only then can we be sure of having God’s interests, not ours.