193 The Boat and the Water
I return today to the subject of the Kingdom and the message and ministry of Jesus. I also return to a subject which I have preached on before; that of Peters walking on the water: – but today I want to look at it from a different angle. In Science, Philosophy, Medicine and Religion, new discoveries are being made every day which change the perceptions we have held for a long time. These new discoveries force us to re-think our conclusions and re-set our minds to different angles. This kind of major shift we call a “Paradigm Shift”. Dr Thomas Kuhn
(an American Historian and Philosopher of Science) in
an effort to explain to his students the meaning of the term “Paradigm Shift” used an illustrated sketch of a Duck, which if you looked at the sketch Horizontally it most certainly appears to be a Duck. Yet, if you looked at the same sketch from a different angle, if you looked at it Vertically, the Duck appears to be a Rabbit? Dr Kuhn called this a “paradigm shift”
(you may find that sketch if you Google the word Paradigm)
For instance, with the discovery of DNA came a paradigm shift in both the areas of Medicine and Criminal Justice. Doctors and Judges were looking at the same problems but from a different perspective based on new information which came through the DNA of the individuals involved.
So my Sermon today, entitled “The Boat & the Water”
is about a paradigm shift, a serious move, a change of pattern, another perspective, a different angle on the Church and the Kingdom. The reason why I want you to take a fresh look at these things is that I have discovered that when I look out of the
box of “traditional” thinking, it is then I see more clearly what God is showing me. His word should not be shrouded in tradition but should be revealed in truth. The greatest battle going on in our world right now is not between Good and Evil, but is between Truth and Lies. Don’t tell me lies, tell me the truth and tell it like Jesus told it… give it to me straight!
I want ALL that God has for me, I am not contented with past experience, past blessing, past sermons, past revelations, especially since I know there to be more, much more that God has for me? So I am determined to press on, search and dig deeper, look higher, and aim farther than I have done before. I am eager to get it all. I am eager to get out of the boat and try walking on the water … for if Peter could do it, then I believe so can I? Of course YOU may not want that, you may be perfectly happy and contented in the boat, so be it, but I will have to leave you behind, leave you there, for I want more of God, more of the Kingdom and more of everything God has for me, I am hungry for more, and if you are too, then this is a message for you;
and believe me there IS so much more to uncover.
One might reasonably suggest that the Reformation was a Paradigm Shift. On the Religious frontier, a Monk called Martin Luther, pinned on the door of a Roman Catholic Church at Wittenberg what he called his 96 Thesis. Part of this thesis, contained an idea which he called “Justification by Faith” which suggested to the worshippers that the church did not have the responsibility of absolution from sin, – but that every individual believer had the ability to be justified in and apart from the Priest for their sins, in that they were justified by faith in Christ not faith in the Church. And out of that comes all of the birthing of the various forms of the Protestant faith …
changing the entire Religious Frontier – because one man introduced information through which we now see the Scriptures in a light through which they had not been seen before. Through the lenses of our experiences to which we have been exposed, and the information, doctrines, ideas and philosophies which we have gathered which bring us into certain realms of truth, these, can sometimes leave us with the mistaken conclusion that this is all that there is. The notion that what our Parents and Grandparents experienced and enjoyed in Church, is what we should enjoy too, and that there is nothing more than what they received available to us. This is a great mistake.
For example, – a shifting came when we discovered computers, and many of us who are of a certain age had to, as it were, go back to school, we had to learn new words, new concepts, new ideas and new skills in order to be able to use the technology and benefit from the scientific advances available to us. Speaking personally, the computer has been a real God Send to me and
to my ministry. I am able to research information, books, quotations, illustrations, facts and figures without having to move from the chair at my desk. I have been able to cut down my one time vast library of books, and store sermon notes which run to thousands of pages on a memory stick smaller than a matchbox.
While the Gospel, the Good News of the Kingdom, could never and should never be changed, the world to which we present it and preach it, is changing all the time. Therefore we must as a Church present and preach that Gospel in a relevant and realistic way, otherwise we create misconceptions and misunderstandings.
If the Gospel is not “GOOD NEWS” and working for Good in peoples lives, then it is not the Gospel which Jesus and the Apostles proclaimed. Our efforts should be sincere, but they could be sincerely misguided or sincerely wrong? We may sing “give me that Old Time Religion” but if we do, our Churches will be full of none but “Old Timers”.
It is time to get a grip on our Mission and our Message
for TODAYS generation.
Think for a moment about Peter and his companions on the Boat. They felt safe on the boat, this is what they knew, this was familiar territory. They had grown up with fishing, they had lived all their lives in boats and their experiences in both the calm and the storms of life had been from that perspective,
that point of view, looking at life and the world from the
bridge of a boat.
Now Jesus comes to them “walking on the Water” and there is an earthquake in their thinking patterns. This had not been tried before, this had not been seen before, this had not been imagined before, this was new, this was different, this looked unsafe, seemed dangerous, and was unheard of. Are you willing to attempt the “unheard of” for God? Are you willing to step out of the boat and try walking on the Water?
Only Peter (unlike the rest) seemed to have the faith for it?
Everyone of you listening to the sound of my voice today has to make the decision, -“Do I stay on the safe and familiar boat of my past experiences and cleave to my perceptions even in the light of fresh truth and fresh revelation, or do I have the courage to release my grip on the boat of my own ideas and jump into the water, the bigger stream of consciousness. Many people will
hold on to that which is familiar and avoid the opportunity to move into that which is progressive, but there are I believe amongst you, those who like me, are so hungry to get it right, so hungry for more of God, not content with past blessings and past experiences, that you want more of God today, as I do. Yet we may have to renounce some of what we have said before in order to see what we have not seen before. Are you going to stay on the Boat or get into the water? Even if you can’t walk on the water right away, are you prepared to struggle or splash about for a while until you get the hang of it? I have discovered that you have to fight for the faith to do the new, and you may also have to fight with some who want to hold you back on the boat, trying to convince you to choose the safest option?
The other Eleven stayed on the boat, that was the familiar, the safe place but only one said “Lord if you are calling me to step off the boat, into a bigger opportunity, to learn something new, calling me into the unfamiliar, bid me to come ” and Jesus said COME and it was a Paradigm shift! All of a sudden
everything began to change, same boat, same disciples, same Jesus, but one word changed the perception of what could be done. And if Peter was willing to forsake all tradition as he had known it before, and step into the unfamiliar of walking on something he had never walked on before – as long as his perception became bigger than his circumstance, he could rise above his situation. The only trouble is, that once you step into a bigger stream of consciousness, then you cannot start walking out on the water and stay thinking back there on the boat.
Once you have stepped out on the water, you can never go
back on the boat. NEVER!
This is why its never good to go to a progressive church with strong teaching if you are not really ready to launch into it. It will conflict with you, aggravate you, and irritate you. So if you are a boat (traditional) person, then join a boat (traditional) church. There is nothing worse on you or me, than to have a boat member in a water church. The boat members are usually sceptical, they will say things like, “that’s not the way we used to do it” OR “that’s not the way we do it in our church” …
They are always referring back to the limited pool of their past experience? If you have a boat mentality stay in a boat Church.
The reason why I believe that the Holy Spirit has given me this message today is that many of you listening have exhausted all you can do on the little boat of consciousness and you are ready to jump headfirst into an ocean of bigger ideas. Even if you have to jump on your own, you still are hungry for more, and
as I’ve said, “once you jump, you can never go back”.
So if you don’t want to do this don’t go any further, stay amongst the familiar, stay in your comfort zone, stay in your boat, and be a “boat-keeper” because you clearly don’t want the kind of Pastor or Preacher I am, who will step off the boat and risk the uncomfortable cold waters for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom. Yes, I recon the water to be uncomfortable at first, because I know that when you start walking on the water, those left in the boat will hate you for it! You see if I am walking
on the water, I am going to get on your nerves.
Those who are usually left on the boat have but a “church” mentality, they are parochial in their vision and vocation. But those who look beyond the Church and see the Kingdom, see the world and the necessity to win it for Jesus and will gladly leave
their comfort zones and launch out into the deep for Him. There are certainties in the safety of the boat, there are uncertainties and dangers in the Ocean, but those who are not willing for the Cross, are not going to be wearing the Crown.
There are new horizons out on the waters, there are often only old relics on the boat. God is showing me that He wants to change the way we see things, he wants to reveal more of himself to us, and give us fresh revelation. For Example:
Turn with me again to that portion of the Gospel which we read earlier in today’s service, what we commonly call the Communion Scriptures in Luke 22. Because we see this as a Communion text, we only do so, because it was introduced to
us as a communion text, it is our point of reference, it is our perspective, and all of the historical data to which we have been exposed says this is a text that you use for communion. Yet we overlook the fact that when the Disciples gathered they were not coming to have communion. This was part of a ritual, it was
the same traditional thing that they did all the time. They were coming to commemorate the “Passover”. Passover remembered that the Children of Israel had escaped the hand of the Pharaoh through the sacrifice of an innocent Lamb. The Passover meal then commemorated that lamb that died so that their ancestors could escape Pharaoh, and this was a reflection backwards on their past experiences.
Now when Jesus brings them together to this celebration or commemoration, everything was normal until he took the bread and he said “Take Eat” this was normal, but then he adds
“This is My Body …” and everything shifted.
Because they said, “this is not what we’ve been taught, this is not supposed to be about you, this is about our ancestors and
how they escaped, we are remembering that” … and now,
Jesus has brought something NEW into the equation?
This Challenges their thinking!
Understand that when you are set in a structured way of thinking, it becomes difficult to become progressive, because
in order to progress you must forsake. It is not easy to step off the boat that you know, into the water that you don’t know.
It makes great preaching to talk about “Walking on the Water”
and talk is only what most of us do, and I must be careful not to become too critical of those who are stuck on the boat of safe thinking. It takes a lot of Faith and a lot of Courage to step
into something that is so different and is so big that leaves
you feeling vulnerable.
When Jesus said “Take Eat, this is MY BODY” I can imagine the disciples all thinking “wait a moment, Moses did not say anything about you, Zechariah did not say anything about you, Isaiah did not say anything about Passover being changed, Ezekiel did not say anything about it, nor Daniel” and you can understand their reasoning. But when Jesus says “take eat this is my body” there is no explanation, no proof, no historical data, nobody supports it, nobody understands it, the religious people think it ridiculous, but if you can grasp it, you move from the boat into the water, you stop seeing a Church and begin to see
Let me take this a little further. When he says “take eat this is my body” the theology of the day experienced an earthquake … all of the known parameters were shaken. All of a sudden a new word emerges; the word Communion! If you had spoken to the old testament believers about communion, they would not know what you were talking about, nor how to prepare for it.
Some of the things that I am telling people that I am about to do, they have no concept, and no understanding of. Some of the impossibilities that faith can achieve are unheard of and scorned and shunned by most church-going folk around us. We have put the Almighty in a BOX and shut the lid, but no more! God is going to show you and me just how powerful he really is, just how mighty is the Almighty. God is about to take something NEW out of something OLD, that will make the whole world sit up and take notice. Mark my words. God is calling us to have that Water Walking kind of faith that enables us to step into another dimension, even if we have to go there by ourselves without the support of any other. Stay in the boat if you must, but I am stepping out onto that water, just watch me. Whether you say Amen or not, I’m going anyway. Whether you like me or not, I’m going anyway. Whether you support me or not I’m going anyway, for if Gods got something else that he wants to show me, other than that which I have seen in the past, I want to see it. I am more afraid of staying in the boat when God says that my blessings are in the waters, in the ocean of His greatness. One thing I have learned is that we are not as a Church going to fizzle out in this world like a damp squid, nor are we moving out en-mass in some sort of an escape pact,
but we His Church are going to shake this world into a fresh awareness of who God really is, for the glory of the latter house is going to be greater than the glory of the former House. And God told me to tell you that he is about to make a SHIFT in your life and if you can have the faith for it, you will see that which you never imagined you would ever see, do that which you never imagined you could do, and work that which you never imagined you could handle.
NOW THIS FINAL WORD.
Some of you may say to me, “My Pastor, My Priest My Preacher does not tell me about walking on the water, nor imply that I should aim at that kind of life”? My dear friends, I do not want you to live your life, or try to live your life based on what any Preacher might tell you. Nor do I want you to look at or follow the example of any Preacher. Nor would I want you to try to imitate me, and don’t try to please me, and don’t try to follow me, … if you do, you will end up failing in the same
ways that I do. Follow the Preaching and Teaching of
JESUS – the Master Himself, and as his Mother once said “whatever HE says to you, do it” John 2:5
Yet you may feel alone in your pursuit of Christ?
There is no-one behind you, no-one supporting you, no-one stepping out of the boat along with you.
I know how you feel, and maybe Peter knew that kind of feeling also. Remember than none of the rest of the disciples followed him, HE stepped out of the boat alone. Let me tell you this, that even if the whole world, the whole church, drop you, and allow you to go under the water, you will discover as Peter did,
that God, that Jesus will never let you go.
If Jesus had given up or given in to his natural feelings and had decided not to go on to the Cross nor to Crucifixion, then I can tell you that God had no other plan.
If you have been chosen and called by God to a Vision, to a Vocation, to a Victory in the days ahead, and if you should turn back or fail, … God may have no other plan.
So step out of the Boat, and God will hold you up. Amen