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15 August, 2010

My Own Faith

I have always had a problem with the Apostle Peter. I guess I identified too easily with him to be comfortable. "Mouth in Motion, Mind in Neutral"; that pretty well describes many of the things Peter did, and most accurately describes me! I get a little too far ahead of myself when reacting. I have the best of intentions, with the worst of endings. This makes me more inaccurate than anything else and it shows how incomplete I can be. I consider Matthew 14:22-31 to be a good story of just what I'm talking about.

We find Jesus, having just fed a group of more than 5000 people, He told His disciples to get into a boat and go across to Gennsaret. He didn't go with them, instead He was going to go off by Himself and pray. While they were going across, He began to walk, on the water, toward them. Peter saw this and said "If it is you, tell me and I will come to you on the water" (ON the water!) Jesus, of course said "Come!" He got down out of the boat and actually began to walk on the water! In v. 30: "But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"" Jesus was right there to pick him up out of the waves, but, He also reprimanded him. V. 31 He said "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" When I first read this I thought it had to do with his faith in God, but if that had been the case why did he follow Jesus? Then I began to think maybe it was his faith in Jesus that was so small and Jesus was, basically, tired of tripping over it; but, if that were the case, then why did Peter even get out of the boat if he didn't trust Jesus?! That left me with only one: Peter! Most of the time when I fall it isn't because of doubt in God nor in Jesus Christ, but because of my doubts in me.
Why, then, did Jesus reprimand Peter for this? Why is that such a bad thing, to not have faith in ourselves? We're not perfect, we are really quite fallible! It's easy to trust (and therefore have faith in) someone who's perfect, but, we fail pretty much consistently. The reason is really pretty simple; When Peter was called to follow Jesus, he was called to be himself, all of himself, including the fallacies! That "call" is the largest part of the reason for our needing to have faith in ourselves. If I don't have faith in me, I have made a mockery of the blood of Christ! When He died for me on that cross, shed His blood for me, cleansed me from all my sins, He took into account my unfailing ability to fall. He did so for the express purpose of saving me from that ability, so that when I do fall, it is not fatal. I can stand up again. Part of the reason is, indeed because Jesus will be there to pick me up just as He was with Peter, but also because when I have a failure I have the option to learn from it and I don't have to fall like that again. I probably will, at least a few times more, until I have learned; but the key is that I can be trusted to learn! I can be trusted not to spend the rest of my life with the same failure time after time. For that reason, I can put my faith, not only in Jesus but, in myself! That is the time when God will be able to use me most, when I trust myself!

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