Last Sunday's talk was about Peter walking on water, or at least giving it a good try. The story's in Matthew 14:22-33. Here's what we said...
I want to talk about your comfort zone. Peter and the disciples in the middle of this storm had a comfort zone. It was their boat. They were fishermen. They'd grown up in boats! They made their living from them, day in, day out.
So stepping out of the boat was leaving the comfort zone. I mean here they were, in the middle of a terrible storm, no Jesus with them, and suddenly they see what most of them take to be a ghost! What would you do? Who'd stay put?
I've heard sermons that rather belittle Simon Peter here – yes he started out fine, didn't he, but then he took his eyes off Jesus, he looked at the wind and the waves – all that's going on around him – instead of trusting in the Lord. So he began to sink… If only he'd listened to my preaching, if only he'd had my faith, he wouldn't have sunk. But Peter's really brave here – would you have stepped out of that boat? Your comfort zone?
When is the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone? It needn't be in a big way. Perhaps you took on a new role – you weren't sure how it would go. Perhaps you went to visit someone – maybe you took up last week's challenge to go and find someone who we might need our company or our help – remember when we ate the fourth bit of donut? Or maybe it was a big thing – you launched a risky business venture, you tried to put things right with someone you'd fallen out with.
Have a chat with your neighbour: when did you last step out of your comfort zone? Where was God in that? ... Anyone want to share? …
As you've noticed, we've actually acted out stepping out of our comfort zone. Opening up to another person about times when we've felt vulnerable – that's stepping out of our comfort zone. Being expected to talk to each other in church – that's stepping out of our comfort zone.
But why should God want to take us out of our comfort zone? After all, we like it there! And we need to be there a lot of the time - but maybe not all of the time. I think God has three reasons:
1. Because God wants our faith to grow. Faith like a mustard seed is faith that can grow – seeds grow. Put it in God's hands and it will grow – because that's what faith is. It's not about trying to make yourself believe things you know aren't true. It's about trusting in God that He is at work in you. Peter responds to Jesus – "Lord, if it's really you, call me!" God doesn't ask us to do stupid things in the name of stepping out in faith. He just asks that we let Him take the lead in cosmic dance of faith. Faith cannot grow while we play wallflower. We need to get out there and exercise those faith muscles - or they will waste away.
2. Because our comfort zones don't last. Sooner or later, storms come. That's life. Nothing we have will be there forever. Only Jesus is forever – because of His death and resurrection.
3. It's because Jesus Himself is our comfort zone. How do you picture Jesus walking on the water? Scrambling up and down those mountainous waves? No, He didn't scramble, He walked! Peace spread over those waves around Him. Peace spread to Peter when Jesus took him by the hand. Peace spread to the disciples when Jesus got back in the boat. This is a peace that cannot be taken away, because the Prince of peace is forever.
So it's about swapping one comfort zone for another one – a better and more lasting one for one that sooner or later will succumb to the storms and sink. Which comfort zone do you prefer?
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