I have this friend that has the same debate with me often. It typically goes like this, “What’s the point of it all? Why can’t Jesus just end it all now so we can go to heaven?”
It’s a hard question to answer when you think about it because… I mean, life is hard, many people are suffering – wouldn’t we all prefer to be in heaven? This begs the question of whether life is meant to be “just surviving.”
The Passion of Christ; Resurrection; Salvation. I always think I know what these concepts mean. During Holy Week, we all read the Gospel passages together – and most of us know the events leading to the crucifixion by heart. It’s all about Jesus giving us life after death.
Salvation is a promise for later – a promise of going to heaven, right? Not exactly. Yes, the hope of Easter is that dying is not the end, but our life on Earth is also meant for greatness.
Salvation is for now … AND for later.
This past Lent Season, I focused quite a bit on the disciple Peter. A rock of faith, he walked on water - but he also doubted…he sank in that water and he denied ever knowing Christ… three times. Peter experienced God-empowered exploits, he witnessed miracles at Christ’s hand, but most importantly Peter felt all too well the need of his salvation here on Earth before his death.
In Matthew 14:24-33, the disciples encounter Jesus in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. You know the story, the disciples were in the boat and Jesus… well, He didn’t need a boat. He reached out His hand and invited them to step out of the boat and walk to Him – right on the water. Peter stepped up to the challenge, he stepped out of the boat…and because he did, two things happened. First, he experienced God’s miraculous wonder…he walked on water! Second, he experienced sinking. Because Peter stepped out on to the water, his doubts, fears, and weaknesses were fully exposed to everyone and he started to sink. Peter immediately cried out, “Lord, Save Me!” And he was saved.
The other disciples were never rebuked for not getting out of that boat – and their doubts and insecurities were not exposed the way Peter was exposed. But - they also did not get to walk on water.
Many people fall into one of two categories. Either they cling to the safety of the inside of the boat never really experiencing anything great or terrible, OR they work up the courage to get out of the boat only to find themselves sinking ever since. Either way, it is understandable why one would conclude that life on Earth is merely about surviving and waiting on heaven.
Peter shows us the amazing hope Christ brought in a third category – Salvation. Salvation is not merely a promise for later; it’s for now, today, this moment.
Peter literally cried out to be saved. How many of us are willing to not only step out of that boat to be used by God, but also humble enough to cry out “Lord, Save Me!” when we sink in the process?
I always seem to think that if I’m doing God’s Will that means it will be easy and there won’t be any – sinking. When life gets hard – I have a tendency to do the opposite of Peter. Instead of calling out, “Lord, Save Me!” … I focus on “just surviving;” I doggie-paddle. I second guess my actions and I doubt God’s goodness. And when I do – then sure – it starts to beg the question, “What’s the point of it all?” Why doesn’t Jesus end it all now so we can go to heaven?
Whether or not it would satisfy my friend’s question –The truth is we are not destined to live a life of “just surviving” until we get to heaven- we are destined to get out of that boat today AND miraculously walk on water now. Here on Earth. Just like the other disciples, I do not believe we will be rebuked or somehow lose our place in heaven if we choose not to answer Christ’s call to walk out to Him on the water. But if we don’t … then really we’ve chosen a life of “just surviving.” We’ve chosen to postpone the gift of salvation until later.
“The point” is we are destined to have this life of salvation NOW… so why would we wait? We can live a life of greatness merely by calling out to God, “Lord, Save Me!” Indeed He has. He’s just waiting for you to take His extended hand.
For discussion: what holds you back from living versus “just surviving”?