To piggyback on what Josh wrote a few weeks ago, I think the idea of “getting out of your boat” to fully experience the power of Christ requires us to challenge ourselves and lend ourselves to imaginative and courageous endeavors. We need to make sure we are asking God, “Hey, what can we do to most glorify your name?” Peter got this. That is why he got out of the boat; he knew that heading toward Jesus was his best bet.
I think that we all have our boats. For me, complacency, more than anything else, holds me back from following Peter’s example. Its like “I don’t want to get out of the boat because I don’t have to. I give a little here, I am usually nice to my neighbors and I get to church at least twice a month. I feel good enough about myself, why risk anything that may cause me to be uncomfortable or vulnerable?” Often, I have to remind myself that Jesus’ calling to usher in His Kingdom does not leave room for comfort and risk-avoidance behavior. On the contrary, if we want to see the Kingdom of God spread, then we HAVE to take some risks. That is when God shows up BIG TIME. Think about Peter on the water. Think of everything he misses if he stays huddled up against the starboard side of that boat in the Sea of Galilee.
I spent some time recently with some friends on a lake house in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. One of my favorite memories from the trip is a short kayak ride we all took across the lake one morning. I am by no means an expert kayaker, in fact I have only done it once or twice in my life. I tend to swerve left and right without really ever making any forward progress, and with each paddle motion I dump large amounts of water into my kayak (or into the lap of the person sitting behind me). Sometimes I can’t concentrate because part of me feels paralyzed by the fact that I don’t know anything about the water beneath me. For all intents and purposes, the lake holding my friend and I up in our little kayak is an undiscovered world.
As I think about that lake—of which I know nothing about—I really sympathize with what Josh said at the end of his post. He writes that getting out of the boat could be a really great decision, “Why? Because we’re moving in the direction of Christ.” This brings the Christ follower peace in the midst of an undiscovered or unknown situation. As long as we are headed due north toward our Savior, He will not fail us. He will guide and lead us toward the very thing that will bring Him the most Glory. As I consider our conversations on this blog in the last month, I am reminded that a constant attentiveness to where God is leading us is crucial to the Christian life. At Global and Impact, we think that God is leading us to a very specific way of bringing his Kingdom to every corner of the map—training indigenous group leaders to be ambassadors for Christ. In the next few weeks, we will look at the Global Disciples model for missions and why it may even require some of us to get out of the boat and embrace the new/different.
John Piper writes that we should be conduits of God’s grace, not cul-de-sacs. The idea here is that the Gospel we have received via God’s entering our story through Jesus Christ should be shared with those around us. This can be tough for many reasons. Three of them come to my mind initially and I would like to share them with you.
1) Jesus has gone out of style—he isn’t “in vogue”, so to speak. Let’s face it, social perceptions can dictate much of what we do and say; and when it comes to sharing our faith, the way people think about us can often times influence our decision to speak up. I don’t like when people don’t like me. And in a society that values tolerance and relativism, any mention of Jesus or his teaching may render us intolerant or narrow minded.
2) The idea of sharing our faith has become cliche. Those of us who have grown up in the church know the routine. The imperative to share the Gospel with friend, family, neighbor, and enemy is something the church pounds into our minds ceaselessly—so much so, perhaps, that we begin to tire of the same “old” message.
3) Our understanding of what exactly is the Christian mission in this earthly life may be slightly off the mark. Piper’s calling to be conduits instead of cul-de-sacs is particularly powerful here. Sometimes we can fall into thinking that the grace we have received is solely for our benefit, our happiness, and our prosperity. We accept and acknowledge the life-transforming grace we have received through God’s love, but often times the story of grace ends there, short of reaching another human soul.
These three reasons for why it is tough to share our faith reflect individual failings as well as societal pressures to “fit in”. Yet when we stop our busy lives and meditate on the central message of the Gospel, it becomes increasingly difficult to hide the undeniable joy that flows from the human soul when Christ becomes its treasure. Often times, I lose track of my treasure amid the cacophony of sounds and voices encountered in everyday life. I need to be reminded of the death-defeating, life-giving, soul-transforming love and character of the Godhead. In reference to sharing this joy with others, I once heard the concept of sharing our faith in these terms:
‘If I asked you to describe your father’s face to me, you could write your thoughts down on paper. You could present an argument, propositionally, for what your father’s face looks like—writing each facet of his face down on paper. Yet, you could never exhaust everything there is to know about your father’s face. For me to know exactly what your father looks like, I would have to look at his face myself. It is the same with God. For people to know who He is and what He is like, they will have to spend some face time with God, getting to know and understand Him.’
If our joy-filled lives can point people to the face of God (our treasure), then maybe faith sharing would become a little less of a chore and more of a natural overflow of the Spirit of God working in our lives.