fromtheleastothegreatest asked: How do I move past the stage from ‘being in the boat’ to ‘walking on the water’ like Peter? I’m afraid that if I stay right where I am now in my own comfortable lifestyle, I might not get to be with Jesus when I die because I don’t do the will of the Father (Mat 7:21-23). But I’m also giving myself a lot of excuses for not telling people about God; fear of success, laziness, thinking ‘I can always do it next time’, not even sure what to say. Any constructive advice?
Unka Glen answered: One of the limitations of this kind of format, is that I’m often forced to make some educated guesses as to how we got here. Here’s by guess: you went to a revival, or some kind of church event, and the theme of the talk was, essentially— you need to be more committed. And in that meeting someone made you feel like a bad Christian because you weren’t “taking it to the extreme”, you weren’t “walking on water”. And so on.
I’m going to make one more guess: the guy who gave this talk works full-time in a decent sized suburban church, and makes a nice little salary. And the hypocrisy of this situation never occurred to you, that this dude isn’t exactly hacking his way through the bush in some remote jungle to tell people about Jesus. He likely hasn’t set one pinky toe outside his own comfort zone.
Let me tell you about leaving the boat. When I was 22, I was offered a job to be the chaplain of the top juvenile correctional facility in the country. The hitch is, you had to raise your own salary. That means asking every single person you know if they would consider financially supporting you. I had grown up in a fairly well-off suburban church. But what I didn’t know, until I started raising support, is that the people in that church didn’t really believe much in missions.
For many of the early years of my career, where I was near the top of my profession, the man who collects the garbage in your neighborhood made more money than I did. I ate prison food with the inmates to save on groceries. You want to talk extremes, sister I have been there. I left the boat ministry-wise, I left the boat socially, and I certainly left it financially. Nearly a quarter century later, I’m still there.
I tell you all that to tell you this— you’d never catch me making someone like you feel hurt or sad or upset for being less committed than I am. If anything, I want to inspire you and uplift you. To share the joys of pursuing your calling and finding your place in the Kingdom.
And one thing is for dang sure, if all this confusion within you is a result of someone suggesting to you that you might be going to Hell because you’re a bit shy about sharing your faith, then you need to consider it your sacred obligation to leave that place and take as many people with you as possible.
Look, let’s be wise about what happens here. If you don’t really know how to minister to people, you look at something like people’s commitment levels, and you say, well, no matter how committed you are, you could be more committed, and it would be better if you were more committed, so therefore you always should be more committed. So if I make you feel bad about your lack of commitment, that’s good, because it motivates you towards something that’s always true.
They’re using fear of Hell, guilt, and shame in a way that would seem to be pure manipulative evil, but in their minds, it’s to bring about a good result, so the ends justify the means. It’s wrong, and even if it doesn’t come from an evil intent, the result in your life is some pretty evil thoughts that contradict who God says He is.
Maybe your problem with sharing your faith is you feel: a) I suck at it, and b) who would want to sign up for all this guilt? How ‘bout that? But you’ve forgotten what God’s primary will is: that you simply dwell with Him in relationship, not that you obey a set of rules. Let’s reread the verse you gave me, and see if that isn’t exactly what is says.
Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Some people will say, we cast out demons in your name and went to church every Sunday and followed every rule and gave prophecies and did miracles and went to Bible study and prayed and fasted and made people feel like crap so they’d be more committed, and Jesus will say, yeah but you never bothered to get to know me. You did all that stuff, but you never hung out. My will is that you dwell with me, abide with me, walk and talk and hang out with me. You didn’t do that. And if you had, you would be filled with words of grace.
Your verse says that it isn’t all these people who think of themselves as having an “extreme” faith that are on a solid footing with God. That’s all game-playing. As they say in inner-city Chicago, that’s “playing church”. And people do that as a way of avoiding a real, authentic, honest and raw relationship with God.
Seek that relationship, and when the time comes, you won’t think anything of walking on that water. And I’ll have you back the whole way, you can count on that.