Every week this year we are exploring our theme of “The People.” Today we explore….
“The People who take risks: Peter”
Chris Cherry is an ordained minister who received his Masters of Divinity from McAfee School of Theology. He enjoys ping pong and skittles, sends texts with emojis, and loves baseball. He is currently serving as Youth Minister at Middletown Christian Church in Louisville, KY.
I’ve always liked Peter. I like how he seems to be really and truly human in his journey with Jesus. Here he is, trying so dang hard to be perfect, falls on his face a few times, and realizes it’s not about perfection but the relationship. That makes a pretty good story.
My only issue with Peter’s story is usually in how we tell it. We tend to segment the Bible into these little doses based on chapter and verse divisions that were added to the original texts looooong after they were written. For Peter, this typically means his successes are praised loudly. Then, another time down the road, we find one of his failures and make him out to be a down and out disciple with such little faith. If we step back and see his whole story, however, we begin to understand his journey, his ups and downs, and how God used him in huge ways throughout.
One of the most popular Peter stories is found in Matthew 14:22-33, Jesus walks on water and Peter takes a risk. I don’t want to spend a ton of my word count dissecting a passage we’ve all heard a million times. Instead, I want to focus on the risk Peter took—a risk of faith.
When Peter steps out of the boat and begins to sink, people everywhere are quick to point out his apparent “lack of faith.” Even Jesus says, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Obviously, his faith isn’t perfect because he sinks, but here’s the deal: this normal human dude had enough faith in Jesus to step out of the boat, onto the water, and to NOT sink for at least a step or two. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been able to walk on water. If I had to guess, I think I probably would have just stayed in the boat (with the other dudes who were afraid to fail).
Peter’s risk isn’t a my-faith-is-bigger-than-yours contest. Peter’s risk is a lesson on stepping out. Sure, Jesus teaches Peter a real lesson about why he sank, but it’s a lesson Peter never would have learned if he hadn’t stepped out in the first place. Imagine how different the bigger picture of his journey would be if he didn’t learn this lesson by taking a risk. What important lessons in the journey am I missing when I always play it safe? What risk is God calling me to?
Being a Christian isn’t about being comfortable, and yet, we’ve gotten pretty good at pretending like it is.