“And early in the morning He came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.'”From Matthew 14:25-27:
As I read this, I pondered the idea of seeing Jesus as a ghost. Not the literal one like the disciples thought they saw; but, a metaphorical one that when He shows up I am semi in disbelief.
By internet definitions & synonyms
an apparition of a dead person which is believed to appear or become manifest to the living, typically as a nebulous image.
a faint trace
the least bit
a false image
a returning memory or image
When the disciples saw Jesus– the real Jesus coming to them– they thought it was an apparition, a phantom. They did not see Him for who He was. And they were scared.
A couple things came to mind…
First, what keeps us from seeing the reality of Jesus in our everyday lives:
I would say, first and foremost standing in the way of seeing Jesus in our everyday lives is having to do things OUR own way.
There is a truth which we see throughout scripture…to know the Father, and to know Jesus, we must align ourselves with their thoughts and will.
When we are busy making all our own plans. Laying out the steps. Getting just rightly organized…how much time did we put into praying on our path ahead?
Let’s be honest. If we have saturated our minds with “what I want” or “this is how I want it to look / play out” then does it matter if we see or hear from Jesus? Of course, many of you are shouting “Yes, Kate it does matter!” And that is the spiritually correct answer to get an “A” amongst the believers listening within earshot. But for some of us…it may not always be reality.
Hearing from Jesus takes time.
I think it is ironic that the people who have the least number of plans to run by the Lord, are the ones putting in the most effort to hear from God– think cloistered monks.
We, the majority of us reading this blog, do not have the time nor the discipline to pray all day in silence. We pray at given times. We pray in snippets here and there throughout the day. We pray. Do we listen as long and as hard?
We live in a fast-moving society and world climate. Everywhere online people are telling us how to set goals,
how to reach them how to crush them. We are taught and told to stay motivated, to keep moving, to not stagnate and give up. go—Go—GO—GO.
We get so busy! When do we slow down to hear from God? At the end of the day – when we are almost too tired to really hear what He says?
Then there is the issue of importance.
We all want to feel important. Even Holy people want to feel important– they just get their importance straight from God. But in our day and time it can be tempting and even crippling to desire to be seen as important by our family (yes) but also our peers and society at large (think Likes and Shares).
Importance from the world is exhausting. It is fickle, ever changing, fleeting and EVER needing to be renewed and regained. This is just the opposite from importance coming from God and through His eyes.
The scripture does not change. We don’t have to keep being innovating: VERB innovating (present participle) : make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.
For those who want to SHINE in the world:
There is nothing more rare and important as someone whose confidence is in God and obeys His commandments! They are the true “stars” in this world. They will be revealed as sons and daughters of God when Jesus returns. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14. (quote from Martha Evangelisti)
Is that the glory we want though? Are we satisfied with shinning as a redeemed child of God? When we are redeemed we become new creations. We look and act different from the world. We stand out. Or do we? Are we striving as much as the next guy for that note of recognition from our child, our spouse, our parents, our boss, our followers. HA! Even that phrase “our followers”— we are to be the followers (of Christ).
We can have both- importance in the world’s eyes and importance in God’s eyes. But the price is huge to bear with. James 3:1 New Living Translation…Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.
I (personal belief not found in scripture– just my random thinking) don’t think this just applies to teachers. I think whenever we get large on a platform today– our lives are judged more harshly. The people in this world will judge us by what they have heard “Christians should behave like”. We will be scrutinized for hypocrisy. And God will be anxiously wanting to walk with us even closer, so we don’t fall prey to Satan and the lusts of this world.
God can use our authority and our abundance and our promotion. With authority comes the need for accountability. With popularity comes the need for humility. With prosperity comes the need for integrity.Charles Swindoll
We need to listen to Christ and find our way of life, and our importance in HIM.
Second, when we see a false image of Jesus, we are afraid.
Legalism quickly comes to mind.
As Christians we are to be followers of Christ.
I once had it pointed out to me that most Christians are following Paul instead. Paul had a lot to say about how we are to behave and to live. So did Jesus. I am not saying Paul is legalistic! No! Certainly not. Christ delivered him out from his past way of being. But if you think about it, a lot of what we attribute to Christianity is not from the mouth of Christ, nor from His actions. Christ was loving, but direct. Most of His warnings were about self-righteousness and incorrect perspectives and focus on life.
It is not so much that a false image of Jesus makes us afraid, but that a false report of how we are to live, think, and obey (as a follower) can make us afraid that we do not make the cut and will never be good enough. But isn’t that the point?
We will NEVER be good enough– not on our own efforts.
It is not our effort that saves us. It is the merciful grace of God. His caring heart, that ached for us so much, that He made a way to reunite with us for all eternity. He made it (nearly) impossible– (except by self-choice)— to be disconnected from Him.
Jesus is God for whom it was written: Psalm 65:5-8 NLT
5 You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds,
O God our savior.
You are the hope of everyone on earth,
even those who sail on distant seas.
6 You formed the mountains by your power
and armed yourself with mighty strength.
7 You quieted the raging oceans
with their pounding waves
and silenced the shouting of the nations.
8 Those who live at the ends of the earth
stand in awe of your wonders.
From where the sun rises to where it sets,
you inspire shouts of joy.
How could we be afraid in the presence of Him?
Guilt can keep us afraid of Christ.
There is appropriate and inappropriate guilt. If we have done something unloving or that actually breaks moral code– then the “change prompter” of guilt is appropriate, but not as a tool to distance us from Jesus’ love. There are also neurotic imaginings that keep us all wadded up in our brains. They imprison us in crazy thinking. They can disable us from functioning on all cylinders because we become paranoid that we have blundered beyond restoration. Or maybe we do believe we can be restored…but our minds impose some imaginary timeline that we must be regretful for to show our true remorse and intent to change.
Sometimes I have fallen prey to this– actually a lot lately. It is embarrassing to admit. I have found myself in the last week really struggling with guilt. Some of it is well deserved and some of it is falsely wreaking havoc on me. Nothing broken. No one hurt. Just choices I regret. The beatings I put myself through mentally have actually made it excruciatingly difficult to stay awake. My head talk or repeated visions torment me. I can’t shake them. I keep hearing sermon titles about taking control of our thoughts…but I SEEM incapable of doing so.
This type of guilt is NOT good!
All it does is stir up, in me, the knowledge that I am not good enough AS WELL AS delete the knowledge that I am already forgiven and gracefully loved and accepted.
Guilt like this keeps us scared and afraid.
Sometimes blogs that come to my inbox are filled with tirades against our behavior as children of God. They bash me over the head with admonitions that are pointedly direct in a condemning way. (Again, many should not be teachers due to the strict judgement they are storing up for themselves).
Legalism is safe in theory, but it kills. Hence the old law gave way to the new covenant of Jesus. Jesus did not recruit Pharisees to follow him and usher in this new way of life by keeping score and lambasting those who slip and fall.
It is tough to be a teacher, preacher, author, blogger. We want to be thought provoking without standing up front with a gavel. Maybe the best way to do this is to acknowledge insight that comes from walking and slipping on our own path: sharing that we are on this precarious journey too.
To really see Jesus
We must make time for Him
We must communicate through prayer and listening
We must listen through silence and reading the Word and filling our minds with His teaching
We must get rid of the false picture of Jesus through legalism and all the “thou shalt(s).”
Let us not surrender to false images of Christ. Let us not see through shadowy precepts of the real thing. Let us believe what the scripture says and cling to that much more strongly than what our minds create or what people make up.
Until Next Time~