Friday, June 12, 2009

Are you in the boat? Who's with you?

One day in the life of Jesus:
Mark 4:35-41 -- On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, "Let us go across to the other side." And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him.

A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?"

He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?"

And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"
This isn't really a story about how Jesus could command storms on the sea. It's a story about remembering that we are in the boat and that Jesus is with us even when it doesn't seem terribly apparent.

Faith, to be faith at all, can't be easy. Do you have faith that two plus two equals four. Of course not. It just is, and that's that. Do we have faith that Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown? No, it's simply a fact and that's that.

Faith is what we believe in when the evidence is not necessarily conclusive. Where there is no room for doubt, there is no need for faith. But faith does require evidence and reason, otherwise it's just wishful thinking.

Faith's greatest challenge is when the stakes are highest, when the storms set about us and adversity threatens to drown the old and familiar.

Some the early churches used the metaphor of a boat to describe the church. So the disciples’ boat is the church itself, and the disciples are all believers. We are all in the same boat. Adversity will come, recessions will come, illnesses, deaths, discords, disputes all will come, sooner or later. Such are the seas that we sail as disciples.

We are all in the same boat. And we need to remember that Jesus is with us. We have eternal purposes. Storms will pass and they, like all things of the church, must be surrendered to the lordship of Christ.

What is in control – fear or faith? Faith in Christ is betting your life that Christ really is Lord. That is what the disciples finally did.

But we are deceived to think that if we had enough faith we could overcome all our problems miraculously. Thinking that faith is for miracles is wrong. We are not given faith to be served by God, but that we may serve God. Faith enables us to believe that Jesus is with us in our boat, and to act accordingly. Our faith is not just something we affirm; it is how we act and what we do, and how we live and what we give! We sin, sin even in faith, if we just ask for miracles rather than use what God has already given us to row the boat.

So, what are we looking at, the winds that push us or the Christ who is with us? Paul wrote, “We live by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7). The reality of Christ is discerned with faith’s eyes, says Paul: “we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor 4:18 ).

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