Faith is more than believing in ideas or statements about that which is beyond human knowledge and certainty. Faith is more than beliefs about God, Jesus, and the divine. Faith is trusting in someone through a tried-and-true relationship. Faith is more than believing that God exists, that Jesus died and was resurrected. Faith is beloving God through a relationship with Jesus.
That’s the general gist of this past Sunday’s message – Faith: Something More Than Belief. There is a beautiful story that illustrates this kind of faith which is something more than what you and I probably grew up with. And the story comes from Matthew chapter 14.
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter answered him, “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?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:22-33)
So Jesus sends the disciples out on a boat and goes off by himself to pray. Then in the morning when the boat is far out in the sea, Jesus walks out onto the water towards the boat. The disciples wake up and see what is going on and are totally freaked out. You and I would be too if we saw someone walking on top of the water!
Jesus calms the disciples down and Peter – who seems to always want to push things – wants to do what Jesus is doing. So he asks Jesus with this childlike interest to command him to walk on water, too. Jesus does. And Peter does. But very quickly Peter gets frightened and begins to sink and calls out to Jesus again: “Save me!” Then Jesus respond with his classic words: “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Pay attention to Jesus’ words. He affirms that Peter does have faith…just not a large amount of faith. (I have always wondered how you quantify faith. Is faith measured is pounds (lbs) or grams (g) or ounces (oz) or feet (ft) or joules (j) or what???) Whatever Jesus is thinking about when he says “little faith,” it is clear that faith is present. It is also clear that doubt is present. In other words, faith and doubt are not opposites. In fact, faith and doubt can be present at the same time! And Jesus never says, “Don’t doubt.” Jesus simply asks “Why did you doubt?”
If faith is a conviction about an idea or statement, then you cannot be both convicted and un-convicted (doubting) at the same time, right? You would either have faith or lose faith…and begin doubting. But not both at the same time. In contrast, if faith is about trusting in a person because of a relationship, then you can have a small amount of trust that can be tested. You can trust some, but also need to trust more to get through a sticky situation. You can, through deepening a relationship and going through some hard times together, grow to trust more and more.
And so, I think the fact that this story about faith has to do with floating on the top of water is perfect. When you go out into deep water, you have to trust in the water’s ability to hold you up. If you don’t trust that, then you will twist and turn and grab and reach for something to keep you out of the water. You will get frightened. You will struggle. And you will probably drown unless someone comes to save you.
Faith is knowing the water will hold you up because you have experienced the water holding you up before. No one can prepare you for the experience of floating on water. They can try, but ultimately to develop trust in the water, you have to get out in it, get to know how the water feels, how it moves, and actually try floating. And the first few times you do that, you are timid. You aren’t quite sure if it will really hold you because you feel yourself sink a little when a wave comes by. But after some practice and experience, you begin to trust more and more. You become comfortable with the water. You develop some muscle memory for how the water feels and how to best float in it. And before long you have this relationship with water knowing exactly how the water works, how it behaves. And you know from experience exactly what water does when you enter it.
Faith in Jesus, in God, works the same way. It’s not about being convicted of some idea about God. It’s about getting out in the water and learning what it feels like to have a relationship with God through Jesus. The more you get to know Jesus, the deeper you trust. The more experience you have of God, the more faith and love grow within you. And pretty soon, you find that faith is more than believing. Faith becomes beloving.
Miss this week’s sermon? Read or listen here. Something More than Belief (John 3:16)
Wednesday, July 17th, 1:30 pm – Prayer & Inspiration
Thursday, July 18th, 2:00 pm – Ladles of Love, Meal preparation & delivery
Saturday, July 20th, 9:00 – 11:00 am – Community Garden workday
Sunday, July 21st, 9:45 am – Sunday School Series on Apocalyptic Literature
Sunday, July 21st, 11:00 am – Worship; Tom Wilson singing
Upcoming events: Get your pens and pencils and postcards ready!! We want to send letters to our campers to have at Camp Caroline. They arrive at camp on Sunday, July 28th. We will post a list of campers soon. The address for mailing letters to camp is:
Camper’s Name, Beta Camp
3398 Janiero Road
Arapahoe, NC 28510
October 23, 2019
October 15, 2019
October 14, 2019