29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. (Matthew 14:29 ESV)
There is a walking bridge in China that stretches out over a long gorge. It’s not all that different than other bridges all over the world that do the same thing. One might even make the case it’s safer than many of them. But what makes it different is that it’s floor is made out of glass. Walking across it gives you the impression you are stepping out into thin air. Apparently it’s not for the faint of heart. Take a few moments and watch this video:
What would you do? Would you boldly walk across it whistling a happy tune? Mind you that’s easier said, siting in a comfy chair at home. Would you be the one who grabs onto the side railing and scuttles across? Might you put your hand tightly on the shoulder of someone walking in front of you, eyes shut tight? “Just tell me when we get across!” Would you crawl across in the midst of the most intimate prayer session you’ve ever had? Or would your friends have to drag you across kicking, screaming and perhaps even weeping a bit? Would you even walk across?
Of course that’s a big part of the attraction of the bridge. People walk across it because it’s a thrill,it’s a little, maybe even a lot scary. Of course the bridge is perfectly safe. It’s had several inspections and I’ve seen video of engineers hitting the glass with a sledge-hammer. Because even in our thrills we want safety.
Notice how everyone in the video seeks their own place of safety and security. They hold to the edge or another person they feel more secure on their hand and knees. Now, to be sure they should be commended for trying to go across. But my point is that everyone wants to feel secure and safe even when we want a thrill. Risk taking isn’t really a part of our nature.
The bridge reminds me, in a lot of ways, of the journey we take as Christians. We want to be obedient to God, but we want it to be safe. The less danger the better. I’ll follow Jesus, but let me hold onto the side railings. Let somebody else go first and I’ll just hold onto their coat tails. Man of us live our faith with our eyes closed, ignore the danger and asking God to let us know when we’ve made it through. A lot of us crawl on our knees. And there are days when our blessed friends grab us by the hands and ankles and drag us kicking and screaming.
Now those who cross are to be commended for the attempt even when it’s frightening. But my point is it’s difficult to live a full life in Christ and seek safety. Following Jesus isn’t about being comfortable. It’s not about getting your rewards. It’s not about less risk. Actually it’s just the opposite. Following Jesus, truly following Him is much more like Peter interact. Jesus gives Peter not safety wire or a lifesaver. No guarantee except himself. Following Jesus is just like the bridge, only there’s no bridge. No safety report. Only Jesus saying, come follow me.
It’s a lot more like this
Maybe that’s the point though. Safety doesn’t strengthen our faith, it softens it. Not taking risks or living the adventure of our faith draws no one to Jesus. But a Body of Christ, a church, even one person willing to let go and step out? A person living out that type of adventurous a faith? why Go to change the entire world around them.
Look, if you’re still crawling across the bridge, it’s Ok. God loves you and you’re being as obedient as you can. But what if, just what if, you stood up, took off the safety harness and risked something, anything to follow Jesus? What might happen then?
Rev. Dr. Brian Jones