And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. – Matthew 14:25-30
When Jesus called out to Peter and told him to come out to him – to walk on water- Peter had the same problem that many people in the world, and even the church – he got his eyes off Jesus. He looked at the surrounding. He looked at the waves, he let the winds distract him, and he got his eyes off Jesus.
Too many people get their eyes off Jesus and get their eyes on Christians. And if you do that, you’re going to have major problems. Since I’ve been saved, I’ve had the opportunity, like so many other Christians I’m sure, to see a wide spectrum of “Christians” and their level of spirituality.
In college, I met a girl who said all the right words, but her actions aligned more with the world. She could hold her own in any conversation of biblical matters, but life was filled with sin. However, she called herself a Christian.
Several friends in my campus ministry had all the right answers during discussion time, even led worship services, and taught Bible studies, but their actions were less that holy. One girl stopped coming to meetings because she filled her life up the sorority she was accepted in. Her and one of the worship band members eventually had a baby together while they were dating. Some of the guys who lived together came to all the ministry meetings, said all the right words, but their weekends were filled with getting drunk. However, they called themselves Christians.
Others thought it was okay to do whatever they wanted, as long as it didn’t “hurt their witness.” Sin all you want, as long as the sinner didn’t know you were a Christian. That was their anthem. Still others thought pre-marital sex and pot worked well in the Christian life. However, they called themselves Christians.
A few years after my college graduation I read in the paper that one of my former Bible Study leaders had been arrested for child molestation. However, he called himself a Christian.
In Bible School I met another class of Christian – called into the ministry, or at least wanted to go into the ministry. My first year there I saw many drop out or get kicked out for smoking pot, doing other drugs, because they were too busy playing video games to believe God for their healing or go to the doctors, but just fine to go to work. There were others who left or stayed, all the while having pre-marital sex, getting drunk or high, and living an ungodly lifestyle. However, they called themselves Christians.
However, I’ve also met men and women that practice what they preach. People that said one thing and did exactly what they said. Others who were of the highest moral character, although if you new them before they accepted Jesus, you wouldn’t recognize them. I met people that loved God and loved people and everything that they did showed forth that one characteristic. I’ve met people that have a deep understanding of the scriptures, and apply that wisdom to their everyday life. I’ve met others that are the most humble, loving, understanding, patient people that you could ever meet. Others would open their door to total strangers, helping them get back on their feet, even when others would slam the door in that person’s face, even when that person has wronged them in the past repeatedly. They called themselves Christians.
I’ve met them all. I’ve met those who say they’re one thing and they act the complete opposite way and others that walk the walk. I could have ignored all the positive experiences, all the positive relationships and focused on the negative ones. But then, I would be missing out on a truth. We are all on a journey. We’re all justified in Christ, forgiven us sin, but people do stumble, people do fall. People even live habitually in sin. For that, there is grace. There is forgiveness. However, most non-believers do not understand this and see this as another example of Christianity’s hypocrisy.
On the other hand, I could have ignored all the negative experiences, all the negative relationships and focused on the positive ones. But then i would have missed something. I would think that there are some people who just over night are super spiritual, all-loving, all-caring, full of Bible knowledge. And I would loose all hope thinking about where they are and where I am. I would think that it is impossible for me to get anywhere near where they are.
But knowing both the good and the bad, I know that we’re not all perfect. We are on a journey and people are not super spiritual with a snap of a finger. People are not all-loving, all-caring, all-humble, doers of the Word over night. It is a process. There is a hope for me, and a hope for others that yes, you too can be where others are now. But it will take time. It will take God working on you and you, me, paying a price. That’s a dirty word, but it’s true.
However, in truth, we must realize that we shouldn’t even be doing either. We shouldn’t compare ourselves with those who have fallen or those who are super spiritual leaders. If we look at those who have fallen, our sins look less ugly. If we compare ourselves with the super spiritual, we can tend to look like a failure. Comparison will never get you anywhere that you want to go. It will take you down a road of destruction one way or another.
But if we keep our eyes on Jesus, if we look at our savior, we will not stumble down that road. No, we may fall, but He will lift us back up. He will remind us exactly what our sin is, and how He has forgiven us of them all. He will lead us and guide us into His righteousness, into His plans, His way. He will lead us into the life He has for us. If we just keep our eyes on Him.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. – John 14:16
We must remember that it is Jesus that is our savior, not any other man. It is He that paid the price for our sins, not the preacher, not the usher, not our fellow believers. If we get our eyes off Jesus and on to man, we will fall. Many have denied Christ because they have chosen to judge Christ by his followers instead of judging Christ by Christ. They have made His forgiveness mean nothing in their lives because of the words or actions of someone who called themselves a Christian.
One man who fell into this trap was Mahatma Gandhi. He said, “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” He looked at Christians instead of looking at Christ. Though he stated that he loved Christ, he never became a Christian because of Christians. He even said, “If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today.”
Those statements should make us all think. Even though people should not look at Christians, the world is doing so. The Word of God says, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:35).” It is by our love, following the Word of God, that people will know that we are children of God. Even though people should not be looking at Christians, but rather Christ and the Word of God, we must be aware that people are. This is yet just another reason why we should endeavor to live our lives according to the Word (as if being saved alone is not enough).
We all know getting our lives off Christ can lead to ruin. It can get us to miss the plan of God for our life as well. While attending Bible School, I met a girl that said God told her to come there to school. She was adamant about it, which I never doubted. But within two months she was now questioning if she was supposed to be there. Her reason was not because she didn’t know whether of not God had told her. She told me that Christians there seemed so fake. They weren’t what she thought they’d be.
I tried to tell her that she needed to stop thinking about everyone else and focus on why she was there – that God told her she was supposed to be there. But she came up with other excuses, always keeping the excuse that the Christians there were so un-Christian at the heart of why she wanted to leave. Within a few weeks, she had left. She went back home and over the course of a few months she had met a guy who she swore was sent from God. If she hadn’t left Bible School they never would have met. They married and within a year or so they got divorced because of psychological and physical abuse. She went on to live her life and the last time I talked to her she was telling me how everything that happens is God’s will, no matter what it is. If good things happen, it’s God’s will. If bad things happen, it’s God’s will.
All this because she got her eyes off Christ and onto Christians. The plan that God had for her was put on the back burner because of what she looked at. It’s important that we keep our eyes of Christ and the Word of God, otherwise we are left comparing life to the wavering things around us. We are left comparing ourselves to those around us doing better than us or doing worse than us. We’re left looking at the way the world does things and that will eventually lead us to destruction. I encourage you to keep your eyes on God, His Word, and His plan for your life.