THAT FIRST STEP IS A DOOZY

“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So, Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt? (Matthew 14:28-31)
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Peter. Always impetuous. Always wanting to be first. Defiantly proclaiming his allegiance only to fail the test by denying the Lord he professed to love unconditionally. Rising from defeat to become the rock on which the kingdom of God is built (Matthew 16:18).

Peter. The first one out of the boat. Peter. Taking a few tentative steps before realizing that he is in the midst of a violent storm and suddenly remembering that human beings can’t walk on water. Oooops!!! Watch that first step. It’s a doozy!

Peter. “Lord, save me!” Jesus raising him from the certainty of death. Jesus. Helping him back into the boat and challenging the depth of his faith.

First Baptist Church. Facing the storms of declining participation, rigid attitudes, and commitment to traditions above dedication to the Lord of the Church.

Jesus. Calling us to step out of the boat. Jesus. Defying at least one of us to take those first tentative steps into the storms of change.

When Jesus called the first disciples he did not explain himself or guarantee their future. Rather, he said simply, “follow me.” To a person they abandoned their jobs, families, and the security they knew for the yet unknown, cost of discipleship.

The boat is rocking on tumultuous seas. The Church no longer enjoys popularity and public affirmation. The Church is subject to the enormous pressures of society which encourage us to abandon faith on the altar of cultural norms. It is clearly much easier to stay in the boat. That sadly, is the choice most of us make. The winds of change blow and we cling even more tenaciously to the safety of the boat. The boat may be floundering, but it is still the security we know. In the boat, we have the lifejackets of tradition to bolster our objections to the frightening forces of change that attack us. Even when the boat breaks up around us we cling stubbornly to small pieces of driftwood, trusting that we will be able to make landfall and survive the viciousness of the storm.

Where there is no risk there is no vision. Where there is no risk there is no growth. Our call is to build the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. We cannot accomplish that task sitting safely in the boat, swathed in the comfort of our life jackets, waiting for the storm to pass by.

Stop nitpicking about the details of change. Names, times for worship, and the color of paint have nothing whatsoever to do with the content of the message. The message is always about Jesus! Jesus. Calls us and equips us! Jesus. Died for us and lives again for us. It’s about eternal life.

Beloved, it is time to step out of the boat. That first step will be a doozy. We will have many moments of fear and failure. Often, we will call out, “Lord, save me!” Each time the compassionate hand of our Lord will bring us once again to safety.

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One Response to THAT FIRST STEP IS A DOOZY

  1. Shai Nyi says:

    Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying , “whom shall I send? and who will go for us ?and I said, ” Here am I. Send me!”
    Isaiah 6:8

    God was asking Isaiah to do something very difficult and Isaiah obeyed. He is asking us now as a church family to do the same. We are being asked to make these changes for the future of the church not by Jim, not by the board, or the American Baptist Ministry but by the Holy Spirit Himself. It is our choice to follow or turn away. “Here am I. Send me!”

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