Sunday, March 9, 2014

What Does It Take To See Jesus?

Sometimes I believe we Christians are in a downward spiral when it comes to maturity in Jesus. We should be so much further along because of the giants on whose shoulders we stand. But it seems that instead of picking up where they have left off and going forward, we lose what they have learned and have gone backwards. We seem more attracted to understanding Jesus intellectually than spiritually and in so doing we present a tame god instead of our wildly unpredictable living God. It was not a tame and polite love that took Jesus to be sacrificed on the cross but a reckless, love with abandon, that held nothing back. Just consider some of the crazy things he did.

Last night I took a random book off the bookshelf to read to my 19 month old daughter as I prepared her for bed. It happened to be the account of Jesus walking on the water and Peter's attempt to go to him in faith. It struck me just how odd this scene was.

After feeding a large multitude of people, Jesus narrowly avoided being forced into becoming the focus point of rebellion against Rome. After sending his disciples by boat to the other side of the sea, Jesus dismissed the crowd and then disappeared up into the mountains for prayer. However, the disciples did not make it to the other side. They were stopped by a wild storm that threatened to destroy them. That's when it happened.

As the disciples struggled to maintain control of the boat, Jesus came to them walking on the water. Now I know we have grown up with this scripture in Sunday School class and many, many preachers have spoken on it, but just use your imagination to consider the scene. Come on  now, Jesus is walking on the water. Jesus is walking on the water in a storm. Not exactly something his disciples have seen everyday. Yes, they have seen a lot; the lame were healed to walk away, the blind had been given sight, thousands were fed from a small lunch, they had even seen water turned to wine. Regardless of all that, in the midst of this adrenaline pumped moment, being smashed by this storm, Jesus showed up on the water, without a boat.

We should not be surprised that they were surprised. They were surprised to the point of being frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost. I think most of us can relate to this. There are times when we are facing storms that threaten to destroy us, that even though we are crying out to Jesus, we are too busy trying to survive to actually expect him to show up. We are lost in that storm, no help in sight, no light, only darkness and fear. Then suddenly, Jesus is there, the problem is resolved but we are so surprised that we try to explain it away. We may not claim it was a ghost but we come up with a hundred other logical reasons why the storm was resolved. We use our intellect to rationalize what happened instead of accepting that the love of Jesus is a love with abandon that holds nothing back. It requires us to have this the same kind of reckless love to see it is Jesus who saves us.

Isn't it amazing that only one disciple was willing to risk it all to prove it was Jesus standing on the water. Only Peter called out to him. Only Peter thought it would be safer out of the boat and on the water with Jesus than in the boat with the others. Only Peter climbed over the side and stood on the water. Only Peter walked in the midst of the storm to stand with Jesus. He may have failed. He may have allowed his fear to overcome his faith, but most of us don't even get out of the boat. Peter matched the reckless love of Jesus and got out of the boat, convinced it was Jesus.

The only way that we will recognize the love of Jesus in our lives is if we love him with that same intensity of love; a love that allows us to get out of the insecure safety of the boat and stand in the storms of life with Jesus. We have to abandon every false premise of safety, abandon everything that makes sense to our intellect, and throw ourselves into the arms of our Saviour. If we try it any other way we will miss what Jesus is doing. If we try it any other way, we will rationalize him away. If we try it any other way, we will abandon faith for reason and be lost in the storms. Don't do it. Be as courageous as Peter and believe against all reason; believe Jesus loves you that much and decide to love him back in the same manner. Get out of the boat.

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