Summary: Will we reach out to a lost and broken world?
“Walking on Water”
In Hebrew thought, water represents much more than a physical reality.
Whether it’s the sea with its great depths, a relentless river that is overflowing or sudden flash-flooding there is something about the threat water poses to human life.
Throughout the Old Testament, though, the Lord is triumphant over the water…
…in the Creation of the world…
…in the covenant with Noah…
…in the deliverance from Pharaoh’s army at the Red Sea…
…and in the miraculous entry into the Promised Land through the rising Jordan River.
Job says that God tramples on the waves and walks “in the recesses of the deep.”
These are specific signs of God’s sovereignty and transcendent power over all that threatens to stop God’s good purposes.
And although the Sea of Galilee often looked beautiful and calm, many biblical writers described it as an abyss, a fearsome place of darkness and chaos.
It was subject to sudden violent storms…
…storms that came up rather suddenly.
Add to this that few people could swim and even fishermen avoided deep water…
…it’s not surprising that the disciples were terrified and then especially scared out of their minds when they saw Someone or Something walking on the water.
Even after Jesus speaks to the disciples, they are still not sure this is Jesus.
And so Peter calls out: “Lord, if it’s you tell me to come to you on the water.”
When Jesus tells him to “come” Peter steps out of the boat in faith and faithfulness.
And having walked on the water a little way, Peter becomes frightened and he starts to sink.
“Lord, save me!” Peter cries out.
And the strong arm of Jesus lifts him up.
I think what the Lord is trying to get across to us this morning with this passage is that we are called to step out in faith, even in the midst of troubled waters, if we are going to be faithful to Christ and fruitful in ministry.
Of course, stepping out in faith is not a guarantee we won’t face troubled waters or be filled with fear, but it does come with the assurance that Jesus will not abandon us, He will not leave us—even in the midst of chaos.
And that is the most important thing to know.
And through experiencing this, our faith grows stronger, as it must have for Peter on that stormy night 2,000 years ago.
We are told that “those who were in the boat worshiped” Jesus saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
As Christians in the 21st Century we may not fear water, but we still face the stormy seas—those challenging situations that make us feel afraid—that tempt us to stay in our safe little boat.
But there is a world outside that is broken and in chaos.
And Jesus is calling us to step out into the world, into the community, into the neighborhood in mission for Him.
How can we be the Church that takes chances?
How can we be God’s agents of love in this world of violence, greed, arrogance and fear?
I once attended a conference where the speaker said: “The reason that we seem to lack faith in our time is that we are not doing anything that requires it.”
He was right.
The key to faith and fullness of life in Christ is to follow Peter’s example and be willing to step out of the comfort and security of the boat and head into the troubled waters of the world to proclaim the love, mercy and saving grace of God that we find in Jesus Christ.
Like I said, our world is messed up!
We can’t seem to go a day without a mass shooting.
People are living in fear and without hope.
And more people than ever are trying to survive the dangerous storms of life without the Church and without Jesus.
According to a Gallup Poll published in March, only 47% of Americans say they belong to a church.
That’s down from 50% in 2018 and from over 70% in the past six decades.
It’s an all-time low.
Now, there is no doubt that just attending a church doesn’t make us much of a church if we are just sitting in the pew consuming, consuming, consuming.
Being the Church is living our lives for Christ, demonstrating God’s love by serving others—even when it’s risky or not convenient—and sharing our faith with people.
The Church is not somewhere that believers go to be served—but we are to go to serve.
There’s something deeply Scriptural about that.
We are to love and take care of one another.
But we are also called out into the world that God created, loves and died to save.
And there is no future for a church that is passionless, disengaged and apathetic in their love for God and reaching out to others.