“Do You Not Care?”
2 Corinthians 6:1-2
In our scripture lesson today, we find Jesus and his disciples retreating from the crowds. They’d climbed aboard a boat, and headed out into the Sea of Galilee.
I can imagine Jesus was tired… fatigued from doing the work of ministry: teaching and preaching. So he took a nap in the back of the boat. No big deal… I’m sure it was a fairly ordinary thing, to go out on the water to relax.
But while Jesus was napping, a storm suddenly appeared, seemingly out of nowhere… tossing the boat all around. The fact that Jesus could sleep through such a gale is impressive, and maybe indicates just how tired he was...
But regardless, the storm was so fierce, that the burly, seasoned fishermen… who’s seen it all… along with all the other disciples, were scared for their lives. So they woke up Jesus, with a resonating question: “don’t you even care that we’re about to die?” You can sense the anxiety in those words, can’t you?
Of course, Jesus reprimanded his disciples! After calming the storm with a simple word of peace… He scolded the disciples: “why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” The disciples were left amazed at Jesus’ actions and words, “who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?“
Jesus‘ words were stinging, shocking, maybe even convicting... as he called out his disciples - “do you still have no faith?”
But… is that really fair? I mean, think about it! The disciples had only been with Jesus a short time, they just started their journey of faith together… And they were yet to witness some of Jesus’ most impressive miracles and healings. They hadn’t even heard the prophecies of what would happen to Jesus, the prophecies, from Jesus himself, of his death and resurrection.
So, was it rational, or fair, to expect the disciples to have developed a sustaining faith… an unwavering trust in Jesus, at this point?
Of course, on the other hand, maybe Jesus was more on target that it first appears.
Again, think about it… before Jesus questioned the faith of His disciples, they blurted out, “do you not care that we are dying?”
They wanted Jesus to wake up and do something… To fix things… save their lives… which… in that light, it becomes clear (at least in my thinking), that the disciples already knew, they already trusted in Jesus’ power to save! In other words, it’s not that the disciples lacked faith in Christ... if they’d lacked faith, they would’ve never called out to Jesus for help!
In fact, they seem to have had plenty of confidence, actually, that Jesus would wake up, and stop the storm. So what was it that Jesus was actually responding to here? Was He really responding to their “lack of faith?” As in, they failed to believe Jesus could save? or… could it have been…
Jesus was reacting to the disciples’ accusation of him not caring! That seems to make better sense, doesn’t it? And it’s clear, beyond doubt, that this is the true crisis of faith in the story. And in that light… Jesus’ accusation, seems to be on point… right on target. Jesus was in effect saying, “Have you still no faith… that I care for you?”
We don’t often like to admit it, but the fact is, our own faith is really not all that different, is it? Because, like the disciples, you and I are often quick give lip service to God being the omnipotent, all powerful, Creator and Sustainer of all that is or ever will be! We seem to have faith that God can do the miraculous, the big, the grand, the glorious! But somehow, someway… we fail to actually believe that God is willing, or able, to help me… that he cares for me… that he loves me!
We don’t always trust that God has already given us everything we need to be faithful. We put so much trust in God’s power to save us, to rescue us... to deliver us... that we forget the ordinary skills and gifts and graces He has already given us.
Like those seasoned fisherman disciples… who suddenly found themselves frightened and lost… we often act like we don’t know what to do, or how to help ourselves with what God has already given us.
Sometimes we fail to acknowledge God‘s power is actually revealed as much in our gifts, and talents, as they are in multiplying the loaves in the fish, or parting the red sea, or raining down bread from heaven, or raising Lazarus from the dead. Some of us are gifted with music and singing, some of us are gifted with listening, and caring, and encouraging. Some of us are gifted with organizational skills; some with prayer. Some with teaching, and helping. But all are gifted.
And all such gifts are glimpses of God’s grace! Because it’s through such things that God’s love and power are made real in our everyday lives. When we face our fears in this life; the trials and temptations and tribulations… our gifting’s and graces are God’s way of already providing us with help in time of need. Often, when we’re looking for something grand, God calls us to open her eyes to what he has already given us! And the greatest blessing, the greatest gifting: is Jesus himself! Jesus was in the boat the whole time - Jesus was present with the disciples, even as the storm raged! And they KNEW it! They were completely aware of His presence... they just didn’t trust that His presence was enough.
Of course, the sin here… the failure of the disciples, and us at times, is that ultimately, we fail to believe that God will act for our good. We sometimes suspect that God is out to get us (in some way). That He’s keeping score. We’re often far quicker to blame God, than to simply trust him… Especially when things “go wrong” in our lives. When bad things happen to us... when storms rage; we sometimes accuse God of causing our pain... and like the disciples, we cry out, “God… don’t you even care?”
How in the world, after all God has done for us, personally… As a church… As a nation… How can we ask such a question with a straight face? How could we still believe that God does not care for us? How could we possibly believe that God‘s not working all things together for our good, or that God is somehow working against us? Why is it easier to believe that God will either act against us - or not act at all – than to fully believe that God loves us, and cares for us completely, and that he’s always acting in our best interest?
God loves us with an everlasting love; a love that sent his only Son to take our place… And to bear our guilt and shame. It’s no ordinary love… May you and I respond with no ordinary faith.
“As God’s fellow workers, we urge you not to receive God‘s grace in vain. For he says, ‘in the time of my favor I heard you and the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the Day of salvation.”