Monday, August 11, 2014

Jesus' Call: From Comfort to Partnership with God

Pentecost 9
August 10, 2014
Fr. Philip Eberhart




Have you ever been invited outside your comfort zone?   Now I want you to note the words I used...

INVITED =  This is something that isn't required for salvation!  Being invited by the Lord is something special -  we are asked by Him to come along on a special adventure -- something that is out of our ordinary pathway or even out of our ways and means!

But God occasionally invites us to come along on one of His projects.  Often the projects that God calls us to are outside our comfort zone!  Now, you must realize that God has no comfort zone?!!  Why is that?    Because there is nothing that is impossible to Him, so there is no fear.  You see, our comfort zone has more to do with our fear than with our faith!  Our comfort zone exists, because of what we believe to be possible - because of what we deem to be reasonable - because of what we allow in order to be safe and ...  comfortable.  Because friends, we have to admit, in the end ...   it is ALL ABOUT our comfort!!!

Now, of course, I'm talking about the boat!  The boat was a fisherman's comfort zone!  It's not that fishermen can't swim, but why would you want to swim, in the middle of the night, on a stormy sea?  That's crazy!  But I want you to notice something about the exchange between Jesus and Peter ...  Whose idea was this anyway?  This was Peter's idea!

You know, when you read passages like this in scripture, sometimes its fun, its interesting at least, to spend some time trying to put yourself inside the mind of the actors in the passage.  What was Peter thinking?  Some might say he wasn't!!!  He was just his normal impetuous self, leaping before he looked.  Ready, Fire!, Aim !!!

Peter was the outspoken, go-off-half-cocked, sometimes right, sometimes really, really wrong - um -  "leader" of this band of brothers and friends who Jesus had gathered to himself as disciples.  A pretty rag-tag crew, made up of fishermen, zealots, seekers, followers and a tax collector, for good measure!  Peter was filled with the same mixture of faith and fear that we all have!  Sometimes his faith was loud and clear and sometimes his fear overwhelmed him - in this story we have the two, in almost a laboratory environment!  Both can be clearly seen, almost examined along with their fruits: the one the ability to walk on water; the other the likelihood of drowning!

So Faith and Fear - the polar opposites in our gravitational life.  The forces of gravity we are very familiar with, right?
Anyone here every defy the law of gravity?  It's not really something you can defy and have the outcome come out well, in my experience.  I tried it about 16 years ago on a stairwell in the mountains.  It didn't end well!  Gravity wins! every time!  That why it's called A LAW!

It can only be naturally overcome by the operation of another law ... a HIGHER law.  A law which, in its operation,supersedes or overcomes the power of the original law. But even then, in our natural world, the other law has to have the right conditions to overcome gravity - people overcome gravity in water everyday by strapping on waterskis and applying the higher law - the law of lift - which requires something outside to act on that which is being lifted.  In the air, the plane is lifted by the same forces - the lift of the Bernoulli principle and Newton's second law of motion.  I know its complicated.

Faith here is different, it's super-natural.  The faith of Peter in the story this morning isn't the application of these laws in order to "walk on water"!  The faith of Peter is applied to supersede the natural.  It's natural to sink when your feet touch the lake!   Ever notice that?

So let's talk for a minute about the impossible thing that God has invited us into:  Partnership with Him.  Peter wasn't just out of his comfort zone - he was asking Jesus to help him do the impossible!  Have you ever prayed Peter's prayer ... ?    Lord, if you don't show up here, we're sunk!!l  You know that there is a difference being out of your comfort zone a little bit and what Peter did here!  Right?

Friends, Peter acted on faith that he could do what he saw Jesus doing?  Just like Jesus said, "He did what He saw the Father doing!"  We are invited by Jesus into THAT kind of activity!  We are invited by Jesus into the supernatural world of faith.  And this is where we leave our comfort zone - the boat!

NOW I want to shift the analogy from the boat to the church.  This is our boat, friends.  And Jesus is inviting us outside the walls of safety and into the adventure of mission with Him.  And this is a supernatural mission - the kind that Jesus himself was on, while here on earth.  With all the stuff He did!

In our Roman's passage this morning, Paul asks four questions of us, his readers:

"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."
But (1) how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And (2) how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And (3) how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And [finally] (4) how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? 

In Paul's argument we have a tendency to make that beginning statement about the last part, but his emphasis here is on the first word... EVERYONE.

BUT HOW>AND HOW>AND HOW>AND HOW?

EVERYONE - All means ... ???

EVERYONE means ????

So we need to, by faith, answer the hows in our own life and for our own self.

How are they to call on someone in whom they have not believed?  or of whom they have never heard? 

Of course the answer is they cannot.

So now, how are they to hear and believe?   By proclamation!  That's where you and I come in... where we get to partner with God in the great work of salvation.  As the Body of Christ, we are being invited by Him to get out of our comfort zone and walk with him in the deep water of the world around us, to proclaim Him so that others can hear and believe.  Salvation is not from us, but we get to tell about it.  We get to invite others to experience Jesus as alive!  And not just as resurrected and alive, but as LORD.  Lord of all!

But there is one last piece here.  HOW CAN THEY PROCLAIM UNLESS THEY ARE SENT?

So the final question this morning is are you willing to jump out of the boat of your comfort and ask Jesus to invite YOU into the adventure of being SENT by Him into the world to proclaim the Good News of Jesus and His love, to touch and heal in His Name, and to bring people who do not know him, to the knowledge and love of him, for the honor of HIS NAME?

We are all invited by Jesus!  Peter was the only one who got out of the boat!

How will you answer Jesus invitation to walk on the water with Him?

Let's pray:

Lord Jesus Christ, you extended your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of Your saving embrace.  So clothe us, with your Spirit, that we, reaching our hands forth in love, might bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you, for the honor of Your Name.  AMEN.

If you want to be sent, put your hand up...

Jesus, you see the hands here this morning.  In the Name of Jesus, I commission you and send you as ambassadors of Jesus Christ, to PROCLAIM HIM as Risen from the Dead and as LORD of all.  You are commissioned to proclaim the truth of Jesus that others may hear and believe.  With Isaiah and Peter, we answer your call - your invitation, LORD - to get out of our fear and move into our faith, trusting in You to provide the ability to walk on the water, if we will only get out of the boat!

Let the adventure begin!

Amen.

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