Our Calling As A Church
Commitment is essential in the world that we live in. Without commitment by leaders and soldiers, wars will never be won. Without commitment from two people, a marriage will not last. Without commitment, no student will ever graduate from college. Without commitment, Christians will not grow and become what God wants them to be. God wants us to make challenging commitments.
Several years ago, Starry and I celebrated our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary by taking a vacation to Hawaii. I had no responsibilities and had a desire for adventure! We signed up for a luau, for snuba diving, and for parasailing. I had never done any of those things before so I was excited! But when we got on the boat to go parasailing, I began to feel some hesitation. I decided to get to know the captain, who I was entrusting my life to. He looked like a kid—and not one that had done well in school! He offered me a beer, I told him I didn’t drink, but he didn’t let that stop him! I found out he had drifted out to Hawaii and worked on this boat to pay the bills. I asked him how high I could go and he said 900 feet. I had told him earlier I wanted to go all the way up. Just as the first guy reached cruising altitude, I asked the captain about some duct tape wrapped around the cable. He said “Oh, the cable is starting to come unraveled!” My eyes got wide. “Just kidding, that tells me we are at the end of the spool.” As I went up hundreds of feet over the water, tethered to the boat with a nylon cable, the question I asked myself was, “Can I trust the competence and character of the captain?” Eventually, he brought me down and got me safely back in the boat.
As Christians, we entrust our lives to an all-wise and all-powerful Captain. His character and competence can be trusted! We all struggle between faith and fear so we can learn much from Peter’s water-walking experience in Matthew 14.
First, we see in this passage that committed Christians seek God’s presence. Peter and the other disciples were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee without Jesus. A violent storm kept them out on the water till 3:00 a.m. The disciples saw a shadow coming towards them on the water, and thought it was a ghost. Sometimes it takes eyes of faith to recognize Jesus in our difficult circumstances. When he saw it was Jesus, Peter said, “Lord… bid me to come unto thee on the water” (verse 28). Why does Matthew include this detail? Peter had to discern between an authentic call from God and a foolish impulse. We often must do the same. Courage and obedience must be accompanied by wisdom and discernment. Jesus is not looking for bungee-jumping, tornado-chasing daredevils. Peter needed to know that Jesus thought this was a good idea.
Secondly, committed Christians get out of the boat. Put yourself into the story for just a moment. Imagine how violent this storm was—professional fishermen struggled just to avoid being capsized! Picture the size of the waves, the force of the wind, the darkness of the night! It is hard enough to walk on water when the water is calm, the sun is bright, and the air is still. Try to do it when you’re terrified and fearful of drowning! Right now the Lord is passing by and He is inviting you to go on the adventure of your life. You may be scared to death to fully commit to following Him. What will you choose, the water or the boat? The boat is safe, secure, and comfortable; the water is rough, unsteady, and deep. If you get out of the boat, you may sink or at least get wet. But if you stay in the boat, you will never walk on water! If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat. If you want to be used by the Lord, you have to totally commit yourself to Him!
What is your boat? Your boat is whatever represents safety and security to you apart from God himself. Your boat is whatever you are tempted to put your trust in when life gets stormy. Your boat is whatever keeps you comfortable and keeps you from joining Jesus on the waves. My prayer for each Christian here is that you would renounce comfort as the ultimate value or attainment in life and commit to Christ.
Finally, committed Christians experience problems. Peter went to the side of the boat and put one foot over, then the other, still griping the side of the boat. Then he did something very religious—he let go. He abandoned himself to the power and care of Jesus. And for the first time in history, an ordinary human being walked on water. Peter’s circumstances were unique but his faith and commitment shouldn’t be! Then Peter saw the waves and reality set in. His focus shifted from the Savior to the storm. You can relate. You begin a new job, or a new area of spiritual service, full of hope and everything is great and then setbacks and opposition come. Some people see the wind and never get out of the boat! But there is no guarantee that life in the boat is going to be any safer. Everything is risky if you’re alive! Was this the only time Peter would fear or fail? No, but this event prepared him for future challenges. Peter learned that he could trust God in impossible situations. Failure and growth go hand in hand. Peter put himself in a position to fail, which also put him in a position to grow. Failure is an indispensable and irreplaceable part of learning and growth. Sir Edmund Hillary made several unsuccessful attempts at scaling Mount Everest before he finally succeeded. After one failed attempt, he stood at the base of that giant mountain and shook his fist at it. “I’ll defeat you yet,” he said in defiance. “Because you’re as big as you’re going to get – but I’m still growing.” Every time Hillary climbed, he failed. And every time he failed, he learned. And every time he learned, he grew and tried again. And one day he did not fail! In the same way, as we practice faith in God, our trust in Him will grow stronger and stronger.