scripture

The Praise of Doubt by Michael Nichols

The story about Jesus calling Peter out to walk with Him on the water is commonly used to tell people to trust God. That's kind of the point, right? But how quickly do we gloss over what's really going on there?

What Peter experienced made absolutely no sense by human standards. We are heavier than water, so we sink. Storms are huge, so how could we be expected to hold our ground within them?

The problem is not that walking on water makes no sense. Jesus is the Lord, right? All things are possible through Him! The problem is that it makes perfect sense, but we believed something else. What doesn't make sense is sin. It doesn't matter if it's the perceivably "little" white lies or the thefts or the abuses or the addictions or the perversions or the violence or the murders or the genocides. It's not just what we do, and it's not just others have done to us and each other.

The adversity for we who now live is that society tells us to question everything, and the fact is that, yes, there really is merit to skepticism, but the amount of that merit is much smaller than we think. Bear this in mind as I speak to you, though: I'm not condoning naively putting oneself in absurdly dangerous situations without a worthy cause.

As followers of Jesus, we believe that everything that we were meant to be is now working in reverse, meaning that we do not live by reason or sanity but rather by lust and psychosis. Our worldview flipped nearly instantaneously in Eden from being sustained by an omnibenevolent God to questioning whether or not His word was true and what He was holding back from us. (Now, whether or not our initial motives were pure cannot be determined, but it can be reasonably assumed that we were as guilty as lucifer of arrogance and lust for power upon temptation.) Now, we live in a world inhabited by three kinds of people: those who prey on others, those who merely try to survive, and those who think that there must be a better option than either.

Jesus is the better option. His death in our place for our sins and His resurrection overcoming the punishment for the same sin is the single most revolutionary act anyone has ever done. Had we never exposed ourselves to sin, this fact would make sense to us all. We wouldn't view the world through the murky lense of fear. The idea that there is a perfect Lord of all would not seem so idiotic, because it isn't! In fact, it makes the more sense than anything in this world! Our problem is that we base our perceptions on what we've seen and heard, and what we've seen and heard is nothing but the evil proceedings from man's heart!

So when Peter was called to walk with Jesus on the water, his lense was already murky. He already had doubts, but they didn't surface until he refocused on how many ways walking on water could possibly go wrong. In a world where man had not chosen corruption, he would have understood and not doubted that this call from Christ were absolutely possible and that it was going to happen.

The real kicker here is that Jesus didn't just call Peter out on the water; Peter asked Him to do it! He already doubted that it was Jesus on the water, but he had learned so far that Jesus had a habit of doing things that were, by human judgments, completely insane! So if Jesus called him out with Him, shouldn't he have understood that it was going to be a little crazy? Yet he doubted Him anyway! I'd bet he didn't mean to do it, but he did. How could you not when there's a hurricane raging around you, right? But Jesus is Lord of the hurricane and the water!

I dare you, reader, to ask God to do something absolutely insane with you, and even more, I dare you to trust Him to lead you in the correct way. It's our disbelief that is insane, not His sovereignty over all things, because the reality is that He is the most sane thing alive.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy9nwe9_xzw

Growth in the Spirit -- Prologue by Michael Nichols

A few days ago, I was out with a friend of mine. We have been friends since elementary school, and even though he moved away by the time my middle school years were upon me, somehow, we kept in touch. We really reconnected about a year or so ago, when he moved back to Kentucky for a while.

We caught up. Not much about this guy had changed, but he is a different sort of dude. I suppose I expected more change than I saw, but my expectations are of no consequence. Everyone progresses at a different rate. Sometimes, it is more difficult for some to grow in their life.

One way that I noticed his growth was in a spiritual sense. It wasn't something that I noticed his expressing interest before then, not that the subject of angels, heaven, and the typical, hadn't come up in the past. After all, we were in elementary school back then. But this time, things were a bit different. He had struggled with life issues that made him think a little bit more about the deeper side of things. It was great to see this, especially given how much of a revolution God raised up within me during our time of separation.

Anyways, back to the story from a few days ago -- somehow, the subject of his faith journey had come up in conversation. Within this conversation, he mentioned how much he enjoyed camping, and how relaxing it is. There is something about nature that is, well, naturally stimulating yet simultaneously calming, and in a way much different from how we do it within our busy twenty-first centuries lifestyles.

This has prompted me to remember that the writers of the Bible often used agriculture as a way of expressing the growth of an individual. David, in fact, kicked off the fake-book of the Bible (the Psalms, that is -- a music book, not a fraudulent one, in case anyone isn't familiar with the terminology,) with a comparison of "the righteous" to "a tree planted by the rivers of water, which brings for its fruit in its season" (Psalm 1.) In this way, like when we go camping, David takes us right back into the wild, into the way the world was built before we layered things atop it. Does he detail the internal functions of a tree? Psht, no! but by showing how the tree drinks up the water, causing it to flourish and "be fruitful," he definitely gets his point across.

Is this far from the truth? Hardly! I think it's dead on. I'll talk about this more this week -- nothing formal, but just a few thoughts about how we can see this lived out.