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In Matthew 14:22-33, Jesus walked on the water to His disciples in the middle of the night. They first concluded that He was a ghost and were terrified. But the sound of His voice brought them comfort—so much so that Peter confidently asked Him if he could join Him on the water.

What was going through everyone else’s mind? First, terror as they saw Him on the sea; then, comfort that it was the Lord; then, the other 11 watched Peter climb out of a perfectly good boat to walk on water. For years I’ve heard Peter applauded as the only one with enough faith to get out of the boat. But I wonder if there was more going through Peter’s mind.

This boat incident took place the night following Jesus’ feeding the 5,000 (vv.13-21). The disciples were perplexed at how to feed so great a crowd. Jesus inquired of the resources they had to bring to the table. They had nothing but five loaves and two fish. Then …

“He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes” (v.19).

Jesus took something insignificant (loaves and fish) and did something incredibly significant (fed more than 5,000). But He performed that miracle through the hands of His disciples—they distributed the food. He took insignificant men and utilized them for an incredibly significant task. That had to stick with them.

On the boat, this had to be on Peter’s mind when he saw Jesus on the water. He was thinking, “Lord, if yesterday You used us in a miracle, and tonight You’re doing something else miraculous, then I want to be part of what You’re doing right now. Ask me to come to You.”

The church I pastor, perhaps like your church, displays Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” In a changing world, we serve an unchanging God—capable today, as He always has been, to meet people right where they are and transform their lives.

But just because He doesn’t change doesn’t mean how He does what He does won’t change. One day He was feeding 5,000 through the disciples’ hands; then He came walking to them on the water. The question was whether they would participate with Him in what He was going to do next.

That’s the question for us, too. The world is changing all around us. What was reprehensible a generation ago is viewed as acceptable today. Where godly foundations once ruled, that’s no longer the case. As a pastor, I’m constantly asking the Holy Spirit to guide me in new ways to intentionally engage a changing culture with the truth of our unchanging God.

God loves those around me. And if I’m waiting for Him to do the same thing in the same way He did a generation ago (or a year ago), I may miss what He wants to do right now. I need to have my faith stimulated by the crowd He used me to feed yesterday, so I will get out of the boat and join Him in His current work today.

Prayer Points

  • Pray for the Lord to reveal what He’s doing in your community right now and how He’ll empower you to engage.
  • Pray for the sensitivity to reach a changing world with the message of an unchanging God.
  • Pray that the Lord will give you great biblical stability and expand your cultural relevancy.

Share your thoughts. See comments below, and add your own.

is senior pastor of The Church On The Way, Santa Clarita (Santa Clarita Foursquare Church) in Santa Clarita, Calif.