Monday, September 9, 2013

Fear and Faith

This past Sunday our pastor preached on Luke 8:22-25, the familiar story of Jesus’ calming of the storm.

“One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side of the lake.’ So they put out, and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A gale swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. They went to him and woke him up, shouting, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?’” (NRSV)

Our pastor explained that the story is not about doubt and faith, but about fear and faith. Doubt can work in the service of faith, but fear cannot. Fear overwhelms faith. She explained that this story is positioned among several stories concerning the power of Jesus and the recognition of Jesus, connecting to the story in Luke 9 where Peter is able to declare Jesus as the Christ. Growth in Christ is a growth in wisdom---the kind of wisdom that helps us address the “storms” and troubles of our lives because we recognize who Christ is, have experience with his grace, and have abided in him for a time.

There are plenty of us, myself included, who seek to grow in this kind of wisdom but slip into fear and anxiety with predictable ease when certain kinds of trouble come along. Christ may very well think, “Where is your faith?” in response to our fears. But he does not abandon us to our troubles, just as he did not leave the storm-tossed boat with the parting words, "Just deal with it, guys."

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