Saturday, January 10, 2009

GETTING IN THE BOAT (before we walk on water)

"If you want to walk on water, you've got to get out of the boat"

(John Ortberg)

This post is not a book review to criticize or support John Ortberg. Instead, I'd like to focus on the bigger topic.... Getting INTO the boat
Before a person can "walk on water", they must already be in the boat.

Before Peter's faith was tested in Matthew 14: 28-31, he first got into the boat.

The realization of who Jesus really was caused Peter to recognize his sinfulness. It was at this point, Peter was called to "get into the boat" and follow Christ Luke 5: 1-11.
Note that Jesus didn't teach any of the disciples how to have their best life now nor did He work to build their self-esteem and encourage them to find their purpose in life. No, the first thing He did was reveal Himself to them. That alone was enough to cause them to leave everything behind and follow Him. Only after this did Christ begin to teach them the Way.

The problem within the church today is not so much about walking on water as it is getting into the boat in the first place. There seems to be more of an emphasis these days on experiencing the blessings of God than there is experiencing who God is and how to really know Him. Instead of teaching the 'seeker' how to be more fulfilled in life, how to be happy, how to improve this or even how to love others, shouldn't the priority be to teach the Gospel? There are hundreds of self-help books out there. Oprah has become somewhat of a 'religion' herself by promoting the latest guru of self-help to encourage us to find ourselves. Churches all across the country are jumping from one program to the next trying to appeal to the 'seeker' and be culturally relevant without coming across as too churchy.

Is this what Jesus intended when He commanded His disciples to share the good news? Does our motivation and passion to serve Christ come from a self-help book or topical Sunday message? Whatever happened to being awakened, led and fed by the Spirit of God?

The latest motivational book, message, conference or sermon is not what will transform a life to the point where someone will leave everything and follow Jesus. Only the Gospel of Christ can do this. Is it any wonder why so many people are not desiring to walk on water when they are taught that they too can become a Christian if they only "Ask Jesus into their heart"?

((Paul Washer- The true life changing Gospel ~Romans 10))
Only when we see what we are (a sinner) and where we're going (to hell) can we understand why we need to be saved and from what (God's wrath). Repentance and trusting Jesus Christ is what brings us into the boat from which we can walk on water. Without the saving power of the Gospel, everything else is meaningless. We can be purpose driven, have our best life now, be a barbarian, become wild at heart, discover blue like jazz, ponder the velvet Elvis, find God in the shack, seek a new earth and even believe that everything must change however, none of these will transform your life into a 'water-walker'. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God can life-change happen.
As for the popular social gospel that seems to be getting so much attention these days, this focus on compassion alone will not save a person. Only when a person has experienced the transformation that begins to take place when they hear the Gospel of Christ, can they be moved into the effects of the Gospel. Unless we first understand what it means to love God with all our heart, soul & mind, we will not be able to fully grasp the concept of loving others.

To those who are seeking God.... He can be found only through the Gospel and with a contrite & humble heart.

If you claim to be a Christian and are perfectly content just staying in the boat, you might want to do a thorough self-examination with God to make sure you're even in the right boat. Once you're "in", you cannot help but be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay in the Word and through it will come a burning passion to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the world... both in word and in deed.



Becky said...


I was just browsing through random blog listings and came across yours. I grew up in Fenton and so I was pleasantly surprised to stumble across a fellow Fentonian. :o)

Also pleasantly surprised to see a Fentonian so on fire for the Lord - it's been about 3 years since I lived there, but it has always seemed pretty spiritually stagnant to me. Or maybe I was just hanging out with the wrong crowd while I was there - who knows. :o)

Keep up the inspiring messages!