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Embracing Sea Monsters

Week 27 embracing sea monsters new life gillette church upon this rock blog

Embracing Sea Monsters

I am an American, and the agenda to redeem America has been a priority of the American church for most of my life. We put American flags beside Christian flags on our stages and glorify our nation. I have learned, too late in life, that to change a nation you have to start by changing the hearts of people.
 
One man can change the heart of a family. One family can change the heart of a church. One church can change the heart of a city. One city can change the heart of a state. One state can change the heart of a nation. One nation can change the heart of the world, but it all starts with one changed heart. If we want to help our nation, we have to start with our own hearts.
 
If Christ is not at the center of our life, it doesn’t matter who we vote for. What good is freedom if we are going to misuse it to destroy ourselves? True freedom is not about getting to make our own decisions and having control over our own lives. It’s about knowing the truth, all blinders removed. Christians, we have to start by getting Jesus into the hearts of people. That’s the only way we are going to see positive change in our world. 
 
The story of Jesus walking on water has received a lot of attention throughout history. During my lifetime, the most famous sermon on this story was preached by John Ortberg. It is called “If You Want to Walk on Water, You Have to Get Out of the Boat,” but I think that sermon misses the most important lesson of the story.
 
[Jesus] saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, 50 because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 51 Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.
The Hebrews believed Sheol (or hell) was in the deepest parts of the earth and there were doorways to hell in the sea. That’s why they were scared. They thought Jesus was a sea monster from hell. They fell for the superstitions of false religions.
 
Mark’s version of the story gives us a compelling story of Jesus’ power, but not all of the details of this story are included in Mark’s version. John’s version adds some details.
18 Soon a gale swept down upon them, and the sea grew very rough. 19 They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, 20 but he called out to them, “Don’t be afraid. I am here!” 21 Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination!
John’s version of the story is missing something too. Did you catch it? Where is Peter in this story? Neither Mark nor John thought Peter walking on the water was worth reporting. Apparently, this story is about more than Peter walking on the water.
 
Many scholars think that Peter wrote a park of Mark’s book. If that’s true, even Peter left Peter out of the story. However, Matthew’s version of the story does include the detail about Peter.
About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” 
 
27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” 
 
28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” 
 
29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said. 
 
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. 
 
31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,”Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
 
32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.
We translate this word as ghost because we don’t have another word that truly conveys their folklore. They thought Jesus was a sea monster from hell, but Peter was the only one brave enough to investigate. He might also have been motivated by keeping the sea creature in the water and away from the other disciples.
 
But this isn’t about getting out of a boat. This story is about trusting Jesus enough to let Him in the boat. There’s a lot of us who are too scared to let Jesus into our lives because we don’t know what He’ll do when He gets in, but His presence makes all the difference. It’s great to walk on water, but the wind didn’t stop until Jesus got into the boat. Peter, in his doubt, walked on water, but when the doubt was gone, Jesus got in the boat. The storm stopped when Jesus came in.
 
When we let Jesus come into our lives, He calms the storm. When He comes in, He might make us change things. He’ll do some cleaning and fixing, but He makes us better. He will calm the storm, and He will calm us.
 
No political party or American dream can do that. A hobby can’t do that. Power can’t do that, and wealth can’t do that. In fact, as wealth grows, it eventually brings misery. At some point, wealth causes more storms than it calms.
 
If you will give God control of your life, He will make your life better. He will make you better at life, and He will give you true joy. Don’t look for something in creation to define you. Look to the Creator.
 
Before we can change the minds of people, we have to change their hearts. Before we can change their hearts, we have to change our hearts. When the Christian Church in America rejected Christ’s way of neighboring and traded it for a rule of the “moral majority,” we doomed ourselves to the problems we are currently facing. We are eerily like the nation Jesus lived in, and we need to again hear His words of reprimand.
 
We are only able to call ourselves the moral majority because we dumb down our morality. We elevate the sins of outsiders and excuse our pride, gluttony, hatred, and selfishness. Our go-to sins are the sins Jesus pointed out most. Our hearts must change lest the enemy comes to destroy our temples, and this time the temple isn’t a building in Jerusalem. It’s us.
 
The Moral Majority was a political organization in the 1980s that was led by Christians like Jerry Falwell who made deals with devils. Who were those devils? Politicians. “Devil” means “deceiver,” and deception is the dominant tool of politics. The Moral Majority agreed to support fiscal policies of greed if the politicians would support hatred for the sins that were popular to hate at the time.
 
Our hearts have to change. We cannot call ourselves the moral majority because we are immoral. We too are sinners in need of a savior. As we attempt to understand scripture in pursuit of right living, we choose not to point to morality but to Jesus. Our goal is not to make the world more moral. Our goal is to make the world more saved. Our goal is not to become more independent, but to become more dependent on Jesus. Our goal is not to become more politically free, but to become more spiritually free.
 
Growing up, my dad would never let anyone else in the family drive his car. If dad was in the car, he was driving. When we let Jesus in the boat, He steers. When we receive Christ into our lives, we make Him Lord of our lives. His priorities become our priorities. His values become our values. His heart becomes our heart. Let Him in.
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