In The Middle or On The Sidelines?

In response to Peter’s announcement to Jesus that “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). This prophetic promise should serve as a very great encouragement to anyone who desires to live in the middle of what God is doing in the world today. “This rock” was a reference to Peter’s authentic though imperfect understanding and confession of who Jesus was.

Already Peter had proven to be an authentic though imperfect disciple of Jesus. In Matthew 14:29,30 Peter courageously climbs out of the boat to walk on water at the invitation of Jesus. Yet when he saw the wind and became fearful he began to sink. What has always seemed odd to me is that many people seem to be more drawn to the fact that Peter sank than the amazing reality that he walked on water. The tendency to focus more on a perceived mistake in the midst of an obvious miracle is certainly still alive and well today. God may be using a person and ministry powerfully, yet the reality of them not being perfect or appropriate by some standard often trumps the focus of the manifest work of God for the easily offended.

Peter’s cover story could have included a lot of true statements like, “Peter looked away from Jesus!” “Peter got captivated by the wind!” “Peter proves to be a fearful man!” And most damaging, “Peter again fails and sinks in shame!” Today someone would feel called to quickly write a blog or produce a malicious video detailing Peter’s apparent weaknesses and failures! Of course nothing would accurately be reported regarding the truth that Peter did in fact walk on water. Honestly, who cares if it was only for a few steps? I can just imagine an onlooker cynically saying to Peter, “I can’t believe you looked away from Jesus and sank in the water.” But then Peter responds, “I can’t believe you stayed in the boat!” It’s also encouraging to note that when Peter did indeed begin to sink because he lost his focus, that Jesus immediately lifted him up. Peter is the only disciple who ever experienced Jesus in that way. I say, “Good job Peter!”

It is always those who claim to know God and His ways best, yet who live outside of what He is actively doing, who are most critical of those who have courageously stepped into the supernatural realm of God’s work in the world today.

Years ago in a previous church I planted, two families independently announced that they were leaving the church. The first family told me that it was because the church focused too much on the Holy Spirit and His empowering presence among us. The other family shared that they were leaving because we didn’t emphasize these things enough! The interesting fact is neither were active participants in what God was supernaturally doing in that season.

It’s easy to grow bored, disillusioned and critical while sitting as a spectator outside of the action. We were made to live in the middle of what God is doing in the world today. You will never be joyfully satisfied as a disciple of Jesus until you are locked arm in arm with other authentic though imperfect followers of the Wild Messiah!

Thank God we are saved and anointed to serve by grace!

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think! Also, if you are interested in what I post, consider subscribing to my blog. I am going to again start posting my devotional musings and book reflections more consistently. Thanks! – Bill

About bill4jc

Director of Pioneering Initiatives with CRM (Church Resource Ministries) crmleaders.org bill.randall@crmleaders.org
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10 Responses to In The Middle or On The Sidelines?

  1. MP says:

    YAHOO!! You’re the best, Bill, & I love how you have found the beauty in Peter, which is obviously what Jesus also saw!!

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  2. Debbie Boban says:

    I can so relate with Peter! Like Peter I find myself stepping out of the boat, but with the wind and the waves I lose confidence in what I’m doing for the Lord and start to sink, but love it when he puts his hand out to raise back up again! Thank you Jesus!

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  3. Catherine says:

    Bill,

    Like Peter my eyes stray from Jesus and my world becomes chaotic, but Jesus lifts us up. Last week that is what impacted me the most, the fact that even though we look away Jesus is right there beside us to lift us back up.

    Also what amazes me is that when I practice being present with Him throughout the day I am almost immediately blessed in amazing ways, such as being prepared to help someone. Tonight I was honored with just such a call from someone who in a rare moment reached out for advice and prayer about things in their life for which they are feeling convicted and the Holy Spirit gave me what to say and pray. With even the start of authentic desire to be in Jesus presence, He generously pours out His grace and joy! At Life Group Wed. I committed to taking a risk in faith this week and God gave me the opportunity to share tonight what I believe the Holy Spirit gave me for the person who called, and it was well received. To God be the GLORY!

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  4. Don Ostendorf says:

    Always enjoy your thoughts

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  5. Steven Mitchell says:

    Dear Bill,

    These writings and today’s sermon are again very real and authentic. I started thinking again today (after “The Mission of Jesus” sermon) of what you said at the opening of last week’s sermon, “…as I took on more and more authority in Jesus the threshold that I crossed became more and more narrow.” We are in a doorway and on one side I see “me in the flesh”; the threshold separates the the entrance into “the Lord’s way, and the Lord’s Will for my life”. The size of the threshold, like Peter sinking in the water after just walking on it (!), represents fear, doubt, lack of trust, and my flesh in “I”, “Me” and “Mine”. Why did you say that the threshold got narrower and narrower as you took on more authority in Christ Jesus? Simple – when I am completely focused on Him the threshold between me and the Lord ceases to exist because I am in the Focus of walking on supernatural Water!!!

    Thanks for your Gift as a teacher, Bill, and bless us all in narrow or non-observable thresholds that separate us from where Our Lord wishes to take us “in the middle”!!!

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  6. Tim Fox says:

    Bill,
    I ages that we are to prone to focus on the failure rather than the miracle that Peter trusted Jesus word got out if the boat and walked on water. Peter had faith with works. He did what moons else except Jesus had ever done. I need to have that kind of faith. Wow!
    Thank you for teaching this miracle we can experience as well.

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  7. Bill,
    wonderful blog and another incredible sermon this morning. I am so excited about studying this more and focusing on Jesus!
    Kristal

    Like

  8. Tim Rayl says:

    Touched….good read.
    All the best to you.

    Like

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