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Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?1 PETER 3:13 NIV
When I saw this verse of the day, I immediately thought: “Lot’s of people.” I thought of Stephen. Peter. Jesus, of all people. But rest assured, the verse video cleared it up. It seems to be one of those questions like, “Is it easier for me to tell this man his sins are forgiven, or to tell him to get up and walk?” (Matthew 9:5) Not quite a rhetorical question, but definitely one that challenges someone’s thinking, and invites you to seek out more verses to understand what it means.
On first reading, many might believe that this promises that no one who does work for God will have bad things happen to them. Kind of like prosperity preaching. But Jesus Himself promises that this is not true – and this is coming from a man who was tortured and killed for doing good, including healing, feeding, encouraging, and mentoring people. Was Jesus harmed?
What does “harm” really mean? Like the verse video teaches, there’s no harm that God can’t undo. Whatever He doesn’t heal here, He will heal in the next life for those who trust in Him. Just like a video game: you can take damage and maybe even be killed, but when you respawn, you’ll have full powers and endless time to create and explore.
This can be hard for many of us to understand, however. Many of you don’t actually believe that God is real, or that there is a next life to look forward to. Why risk it? Being a true follower of Christ and getting down in the trenches in a meaningful way means you could wind up just like Jesus. Why risk rocking the boat? If you can live a safe life by being a Sundays-and-Holidays-Only Christian, quietly avoiding disagreements or too much interaction with those who don’t believe the way you do, taking a middle-of-the-road approach to key issues, and DEFINITELY avoiding taking a stand for Jesus, why not? Why set yourself up for failure, ridicule, hatred, poverty, torture, and even death? You can do good without putting it all on the line, right?
Or, why bother with good at all? A little bit of good, a little bit of bad – you deserve it, right? It’s all going to end the same way, anyway – what’s the point of worrying too much about all that Jesus stuff? It’s fine for others, they can believe what they want, but for you? Simply illogical, and not worth the trouble.
Have you read the Bible? You’ll find a lot of like-minded individuals in it!
In Our Daily Bread, our three stories came from Genesis, Exodus, and Matthew. In Exodus, God talks Moses and Aaron into one of His schemes, and what happened? Pharaoh scoffing in their face and ordering the Israelites to work even harder. They were whipped and ridiculed – harmed, for sure. And if you keep on in the story of Exodus and onward into Numbers, you’ll find over and over people putting forward the above argument: It was better when we didn’t rock the boat. We wish things were different – we could go back – at least we had x, y, and z in Egypt. God doesn’t really care about us, He’s just using us. What does it matter if we follow Him or follow some other God? Trusting Him was a mistake – look what happened to us and our children.
I’m sure, late at night, Moses would lay awake and hear a voice talking to him: “What do you think you’re even doing, Moses? You’re a murderer. Your own mother didn’t even want you – she left you out in the river to die. You told God over and over that you didn’t want to do this, and you were right; everyone hates you now. You knew what you were talking about; FOLLOWING GOD IS A MISTAKE, MOSES. DON’T DO IT!”
So yeah. Those who of you believe that stepping out in faith is a horrible idea – you’re not alone.
No, really. You’re NOT alone. Even Jesus questioned. He was ACTUALLY God, and He knew exactly what was going to happen to Him (it was His rescue plan!) And when He asked God to back out of the plan, if possible, His heart was breaking with what He was about to go through. Jesus was perfect, and that perfection included questions and sadness and a wish that things could be different. But He still took God’s hand, crying and shaking though He was, and walked on.
Just like Peter. In Matthew 14, he sees Jesus walking on the water. Everyone else on the boat is like, “Wtf?” and Jesus is like, “Yo, it’s your homeboy. Stop stressin.” And Peter’s like, “Bro, you trippin. If it’s REALLY You, tell me to come roll with ya.” And Jesus is like, “Dude.” And Peter was like, “Dude!” And then he saw the waves, and was like, “dude….” And Jesus saved Him, and is like, “Dude. Seriously?”
And I’m like, “Dude!!!” Because think about it. What kind of question is that, Peter? It’s another one of those questions where it’s more a statement than an inquiry. Because honestly, if it wasn’t Jesus, couldn’t whoever it was have still said, “Come?” This blows my mind, because so many people ask God for signs in the Bible, and they involve Him doing something for them. But Peter’s sign was simply an invitation to do something BAT SHIT CRAZY! It is the exact same as him asking, “Jesus, if it’s really you, tell me to jump off this cliff with you.” And guess what? If that’s what Jesus was doing, it would have worked. And if Peter was still freaked out and started falling, Jesus still could have caught him. He still would have been like, “Oh, yea of little faith.” (Yes, Jesus can talk Shakespeare as well as talk street.) Because to whom much has been given, much will be required (Luke 12:48). On our side, Peter’s actions look like a LOT of faith, since no one else got out of the boat, and it was, but Jesus knew that Peter was capable of so much more. And he was! Peter made mistakes and tripped, including outright saying he didn’t know who Jesus was, but he still ended up being one of the biggest leaders and most famous apostles. His adventures took him to meet kings and peasants and rich people and the poor. He got to stay in palaces and prisons alike. He saw God do countless miracles, and saw countless people saved. Even though I’m sure, every now and then in the dark of the night, he’d hear a whisper: “You think you’re hot stuff, don’t you? Well, remember when you…(fill in one of the mistakes we know about, or one that was never recorded) Wasn’t it easier when you were just a fisherman? Go back to your wife. Go back to your mother-in-law. Get back in the boat, Peter, or you’re going to get yourself killed. FOLLOWING GOD IS A MISTAKE, PETER, DON’T DO IT!”
And what a compelling voice that is! It’s so easy to listen to, even when God has given us the most basic tasks. Yeah, that’s right. I’m looking at YOU, Adam and Eve. You had ONE JOB. Literally, JUST ONE! Never mind Peter and Moses. All you had to do was avoid one tiny little pinprick of a spot on the ENTIRE EARTH. You had everything else. I’m sure delicious treats that we’ve never heard of, growing right out of the ground, without you having to do anything!
But what would you do, if someone slithered up to you, and stood beside you looking at that thing you want but know you’ve been told you can’t have? “What are you even doing, dude? God isn’t even here. The only reason He told you not to do that is because He doesn’t want you be enlightened. He just wants to ruin your fun. You know what’s best for you, and it’s not like you’re actually going to be hurting anyone. If it looks good to you, go ahead. God made you with that desire, didn’t He? Why would he put that there and make you want it if it’s bad? That’s messed up. FOLLOWING GOD IS A MISTAKE! DO. NOT. DO. IT!”
So, what happens when we step out in sin, instead of faith? When we decide not to listen to God, and go our own way, because we believe we know better than Him?
Well, we get to walk away. Go ahead.
But it’s not just that you’ll be missing out on crazy adventures. It’s not about the curses on humanity and the plagues on Egypt and being scolded for not having enough faith. It’s about that little voice in the back of your head telling you that there’s more to life than this. It’s those little miracles that you see every day and chalk up to coincidences. It’s knowing that something is missing, and while you might believe that you’ve figured it out on your own and found your own peace in your own way, I can bet there’s still a part of you that wonders.
So don’t lead a revolution. Don’t sell everything you have and give it to the poor. Don’t step into the lion’s den, and definitely don’t go to Nineveh. Just go to a quiet place somewhere. Look up at the sky, and feel the breath in your lungs. Cry. Scream. Give it everything you’ve got, knowing that no one is up there, and that in the end, you’re all alone in this universe. You’ve got nothing to lose – lay it all out on the line. Once you’re spent, and you’ve got it all off your chest for now, try one thing. You’ve got nothing to lose, after all. Just ask. Just say, “God, if it’s really You, tell me to come to You.” Knowing full well that God isn’t real and you won’t get an answer, give it a try. If you really don’t believe, what’s the risk?
Many of you won’t. A: I’m just some crazy lady on the internet. B: What if you really do get an answer, and you’re called to do something you don’t want to do?
I get that feeling every day. Some days I don’t want to leave my house because I’m afraid of what God will ask of me, or I’m just tired. And Jesus, Creator of you and everyone and everything you know and love, felt the same way on the night when He faced his worst test: scared and sad and tired. But He still stepped out, determined that none of us would have to go through the pain of true separation from God, and now has eternal glory waiting for His children. Now free to be and do all that He wants, free from pain and suffering and able to connect with those He loves on the deepest, most intimate level. Peter still stepped out, determined to be like Jesus and follow God wherever He lead. Adam and Eve….well, they doomed us all and I’m still a little salty about it. Of course I could have done better and not eaten the fruit.
So yeah. Be warned. If you step out, you might end up like Jesus.
Try to spend a bit of time in the word every day! It will be amazing, confusing, uplifting, perplexing, and at times disturbing – just like life, and so much better when you’re holding God’s hand.
For daily Bible verse breakdowns and more, go to http://www.bible.com. Don’t forget to download the app!
For a daily guide and devotionals on how to get through the Bible in a year, go to http://www.ourdailybread.ca
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“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.”
~ Romans 15:13