Christianity – A Risky Proposition

 Matt 8:23-27

 

In the last passage we learned that your commitment to Christ must supersede your commitment to all others; even your family.

The disciples who got on the boat with Jesus had truly followed Christ. When the Lord first appeared to them and commanded them to follow, they left their  fishing business and other ventures to follow the Lord. They were true disciples, at least eleven of them.

But now it was time for them to receive a lesson in discipleship; a lesson in what happens when you follow Christ. That lesson they will learn, and the lesson for you this morning, is that following Christ will mean taking risks; the life of a follower of Christ is a risky life.

As a matter of fact, these disciples are about to risk their lives following Christ across the lake. Surely with Jesus in the boat the trip across the lake would be smooth sailing. After all, they had seen Christ perform many miracles; they knew God was with him. What could be safer than being in a boat with the Savior?

While the disciples were more than familiar with storms, they soon realized this was no ordinary storm they were experiencing. The strong winds began to threaten their lives. Why is this happening if we are following Jesus? I thought he would provide for us? It didn’t help that the Savior was fast asleep in the stern of the boat.

Jesus was sleeping during the storm. No, he was not sleeping in order to show you that sleeping through storms is how spiritual people handle stress.

Jesus was asleep because the eternal Son of God had truly become a man. Christ was asleep because he was exhausted. That is why people sleep through loud noises. The Lord woke up before dawn every day to pray, and then most of the day he helped people; he preached and healed them; often forgoing meals. When Christ got into the boat, he fell asleep from exhaustion. That is why the rocking of the boat did not wake him. The Lord truly became one of us. He experienced hunger, pain, loneliness and exhaustion, just like all men.

Now when the disciples woke Jesus up, they were a little angry with him. We see from Mark’s gospel that they accused Jesus of not caring if they perished. Why are you not helping us? Don’t you care that we are risking our lives for you?

On the one hand, the disciples do express faith in Jesus. Why wake him up at all unless they expected him to do something? They knew he had power and that God had sent him. But fear was choking out those tiny seeds of faith.

Anyone who has been a Christian for a while knows how easily faith and fear can mix together. On the one hand, you know God’s promises to take care of you, and you believe that; but on the other hand, you are greatly afraid of what is happening in your life. And deep down you can even feel anger with God for allowing this situation to occur. This is the struggle of faith that goes on in our souls.

The disciples were angry with Christ because they did not realize that following Christ would entail such risks. But if you are going to follow Christ, you will be called upon to live a risky life. Let me give you some examples of this.

To follow Christ means you need to confess your sins. True confession is risky. We do not like to shine the light of truth into our hearts. It is risky to expose our inward thoughts and insecurities.

When you follow Christ you become part of God’s family. You join a local church where you are to allow others to correct you at times. If it is uncomfortable to look into your own heart, it is even more uncomfortable to allow others to do so. But to follow Christ means you listen to exhortation from others.

To follow Christ means you make every effort to preserve the peace and unity of the church, therefore you try to work through conflicts with fellow Christians; and we all know how uncomfortable that can be at times.

Parents, you must risk angering your children by confronting and disciplining them. Many parents simply believe the risk is too great so they raise spoiled children.

Now, you can only take risks for God when you have a safety net. Jesus’ response to the disciples’ encourages you that you do not need to fear as you take risks in following Christ. Christ is your safety net.

Jesus wakes to hear his disciples complaining to him. As the storm rages, he asks them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” That question needs to enter your mind every time you are tempted to shrink back from taking a risk for the Lord. “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?”

Did not the Lord already say he was going to the other side of the lake? Did Jesus ever promise that following him would be smooth sailing, literally and figuratively? No, he did not. Cannot the Lord take care of you in this and any situation? Yes, he can. The disciples’ tiny faith needed to be stretched. They also needed comfort in the midst of their fears.

So Jesus stands up and rebukes the wind and the sea, and the sea becomes calm. Why do you think the Lord spoke to the wind and the seas? Does this action remind you of any Old Testament story you know of? Children? That’s right, the parting of the Red Sea. Psalm 106:9 describes what God did at the Red Sea this way, “He rebuked the Sea, and it became dry, and he lead them through…” V. 10 goes on to say, “he saved then from the hand of the foe, and redeemed them from the power of the enemy.”

Do you see what Christ is showing his disciples? Jesus, the man who experiences hunger and exhaustion, is also Jehovah, the God who parted the Red Sea and led Israel through to the Promised Land!

The disciples began to marvel at this man. Jesus must be more than a holy man sent by God to teach us. What kind of a man speaks to creation and creation obeys? Now their faith is growing; and they are also being prepared for more difficulties to come.

Jesus calls you to live a life of risk for him, but he also provides you with the safety to enable you to step out in faith. He went to the cross and took God’s curse upon himself in your place. Now you can live for him because his love for you is secure. Heaven is secure.

When Adam sinned against God in the garden, God came down to judge him, and Adam rightly cowered in fear. But as Christians, God is no longer your judge, so to you he says, “do not fear.”

If you die while serving the Lord, you die. It only means you will be with him forever, and we will see you again soon. Many of our brethren around the world right now are risking their lives to worship God.

There is a safe religion out there that disguises itself as Christianity. It is a religion of no risks. It is a religion that never takes the risk of loving others. It is a religion that never tells unbelievers about their faith for fear of reprisal. It is a religion that never allows anyone to correct them, refuses to risk being part of a church with conflicts, refuses to sacrifice financially by giving and trust the Lord with provision. This religion is a safe religion. This religion is not Christianity. Christianity is anything but safe.

I encourage you this morning; take the risks to follow Jesus. That may mean being honest with someone you need to be honest with. It may mean speaking to someone about the faith that you know you should speak to. It may mean embracing unlovely and difficult people. It may mean allowing others to correct you if necessary. It may simply mean doing right and receiving the disapproval of friends or family.

Yes, those risks for the Lord often bring about hardships and rejection. But no matter what happens, the God who gave you his only Son will bring you to his promised land; a land where all risk-takers for the Lord will live in eternal peace and happiness.

Remember that God is not asking you to do anything he has not first done himself. God assumed the biggest risk of all because of his great love for you. He risked being humiliated by his enemies so that you would be saved by his death. Christ risked the suffering of his Father’ punishment on the cross in your place. He risked it all for you. Now be willing to risk it all in response to him. Do not be afraid. Your Savior will take care of you of through it all and bring you home. Amen

 

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