Last year, I heard a song. I only heard it once at first, then I heard it again on Instagram about a month later. It sounded so familiar the second time, and I was in that moment where I began to wonder where I had heard it from before. I was so desperate to find the song, because the few lines I heard on Instagram were particularly so pleasant, I became obsessed immediately.
My search took me to different song-recognition apps. I could not find the song. I was so sad. One night though, as I lay on my bed, lost in the world of music pouring out from my headset, a familiar song came up. I flew out of bed immediately as Hillsong’s Oceans filled every part of me. It was the song I had tried to get for weeks. I had it on my phone!
I know. Most of us have had that moment where we just search continuously for something that we already actually have. In the end, we sort of feel silly. But it is a good silly, because in the end, you’re happy you have what you were looking for.
I have listened to Oceans approximately a thousand times since then. The lyrics have helped me expound on the lessons from Peter’s walk on the Sea of Galilee, and even more, shed light on the true relationship between man, faith, and the grace of God. I suggest you listen to that song.
I already referred to Matthew Chapter 14, where Jesus walked on water. The crux of my last post was on the fact that Peter was challenged by the life and spiritual abilities of Jesus. He desired it too, because he knew that this man, mortal like himself, carried supernatural and divine power. God was with him. All Peter wanted was to experience what it was like to be with God, while others seemed quite comfortable with an assurance that they would be safe because Jesus had come.
I am hammering on Peter’s reaction on that boat because I see in it how every true believer needs to react to the gift of the grace of God.
The very life of Jesus is an example to those who wish to follow suit. Lately, it has only been about us getting away with stuff simply because Jesus has made a sacrifice. But before the sacrifice was made, a life was lived. It was displayed for the entire world to see, and is recorded for us that we may believe.
The message of that life is clear: Man was made for more.
Until Jesus, man had not been able to cultivate the spiritual capacity God had deposited in him. The ground was fallow, dead. Christ quickened it, and poured his life into us. In doing that, he gave capacity to live like him.
Jesus’ message is not a basic message of safety from the storm. That is the human perspective. He goes beyond that. He is telling us we are above the storm, and that is actually how we ought to live.
You see, to be in the boat is to be safe. But for me, to take that step right out onto the open and stormy sea, is to be saved.
And Jesus came to save. It is in being saved that we can enjoy true safety. To believe him is to live like He did.
In law school, I was privileged to be a part of the Bible Study committee. It was not easy, handling different views on the Bible and trying to get everyone on the same page. God did His work, thankfully. During the last Bible Study meeting for the year, a lady asked a question. She wanted to know the state of sins after we give our lives to Christ. If we sin, do we ask for forgiveness, or is it that we cannot sin at all, or whatever?
My friend Joel was up to the task in his own response. He pointed out that it really is not easy to let go of the many vices we came into Christ with. However, he pointed that our relationship to God is one of love and our bond with him cannot allow us do something wrong and not want to “talk it over” with him. I clapped, because I love Love.
Another young man gave a response that got me curious. He said our sins, both past, present, and future had already been forgiven, and it did not matter what we did anymore, we need not ask for forgiveness and whatever.
Of course that caused a stir. And it was somewhat up to me to calm the storm in the teapot.
I answered the question with a question of my own:
Why do you ask about sin after coming to Christ? Why are you interested in sin again?
I was actually really confused. I thought maybe the real reason people come to Christ is so that could be free from sin and its consequence. I thought people who were tired of the ordinary life of the flesh, who wanted a divine way out from a life of sin and shame, were the ones who came to Jesus. So I was a little shocked by the question, and even more perplexed by the second answer.
But is that not the case with us in The Church today? We are tailoring our teachings to satisfactorily answer people, than to satisfactorily glorify God. When making people comfortable with the Gospel is our goal, error is most probably inevitable.
So I did not answer the lady’s question. I gave her a question to ponder on.
Why did you come to Christ?
Really, her question, and the answer the other gentleman gave, appeared to me simply to portray a life of escapism. That life is not interested in being like Jesus in totality, but in escaping the coming wrath of God upon the sinful nations.
I call it the calm-the-storm mentality. In actual fact, to me it reeks of double-speak to call out to Jesus to save us from our sin, yet we calmly excuse our sin later on by saying we are not perfect. Of course we are not perfect, which is why we gave up our own life for Jesus’.
Jesus did not come to merely calm storms. See, in calming the storm, we are still at sea, and confined to a boat. We are very, very limited because that is a dimension of the world.
Christ came to empower. Only people who are dissatisfied with life in the boat see Him and desire to jump out of the boat, and walk on water. They trust him for the enablement.
Peter saw it.
I know a million and one people who zero in on so many other aspects of that Matthew 14 story. Some said Peter was forward, proud, arrogant, and a show-off. Other’s zeroed in on the fact that he began to sink after a few steps on the water.
What did I see?
I saw one in twelve who actually believed if Jesus permitted him, he could do what Jesus did. Staying in the boat was great and all, but Peter did not want security from the storm. He wanted to rule the storm and the sea. He was tired of being subject to the dictates of the elements. He wanted out. Freedom.
He got the real truth of the mystery of grace: a new life, and a new way to live life.
Peter looked at Jesus doing exactly that. He wasted no time. His choice of words show that He knew Jesus as not only powerful and full of God, but as a dispenser of God.
“Lord, if that is truly you, command me to come to you”.
Command me. Quite powerful, that Peter knew that in the words of Jesus – His commands – lay the very enabling power to rule the storm.
And when Jesus said “Come”, Peter did not think twice. He was out of the flesh boat in a flash.
And when he began to sink, he did not consider it normal. Hey, it was great walking on water, but I’m actually human. I’m supposed to swim in water. Cheers.
He looked at Jesus and called out to him, simply: “Save me”.
And it hit me. This Peter guy did not settle for less at all. He went all out for the very best of Christ – Christ himself.
Today, we are so comfortable in our ways. We have even gotten to the point where we believe we are incapable of walking in victory over sin, so we say heaven is already secure regardless of how we live our lives after believing. But I think we miss the point.
No one truly comes to Jesus so he can continue to live the way he wants. He comes so he can live Christ’s kind of life. That is when it all makes sense. It is easier to believe God for all the riches in the world. We believe him to heal us, and do great miracles. We like supernatural stuff. But when it comes to our sin, we easily excuse it by saying we do not have the capacity, or we are unable to quickly get over our habits. It does not say that in the Bible. The Bible says we have JESUS!
And every moment we choose to overlook or excuse wrongdoings in our daily living, we actually are acting outside faith. We have simply denied the power of Christ in our lives, and the capacity to live above evil.
When Jesus told Peter he had little faith, I realised then we were made to rule the sea, not swim in it, or relax in the boat. Faith is that step out of our circumstances, our world, and into his. So I can walk in victory over my sin, not because I am able, but because He is able, and He has commanded it. So when I choose Him over my sin, and over my wrongdoings, I am actually living the life of faith in Him.
That is when I can truly say I have received His gift of Grace.
I can walk free of whatever addiction is holding me down, because He has commanded it. When I don’t, I am living beneath my capacity in Him. When I realise that, I will humbly call out to him: “Lord, save me”.
Because I think it is just absurd to believe I cannot do what He says I can do. And if He has said I am free from sin, and that I can put my body under subjection, and that I am no longer subject to the power of sin, then I will do as He has said.
He bids me come, and to Him I go. No questions, no fear. I will not seek safety in the boat. I want the salvation that makes me walk the storm on its head.
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ calls us out of ourselves, so we can reign in this world, living as he did, chasing darkness out. When you begin to walk that storm, you know salvation has come to you, and you are one with Christ.
I have always wanted to fly. I try as much as possible to jump higher and higher. Imagine what I would do if someone came to tell me his word could break the law of gravity, and that I was actually supposed to be Superman.
Sure, you got it.
That is the message of Grace to me.