You probably already know the story – Jesus and the Disciples are crossing the Sea of Galilee in a boat when a storm comes up. The wind and waves pick up and the Disciples start to panic. They call on Jesus, and Jesus grumpily wakes up and calms the storm, then rebukes them for their lack of faith.
My friend Rich preached on this story last week – I thought he did a great job, but at some point in the sermon I diverged in my own thinking. I got out a pen and wrote on my hand (which I do because I have a poor short-term memory) “Why is Christology about Christ?”
I’ve always heard the above story interpreted to mean that we are to have faith that Jesus is with us in our tribulation, that Jesus is the one who can calm the storms in our lives, etc. Though he expanded this nicely, this was a main point that Rich was making. I want to say that I think this interpretation is “right”, whatever that means.
On the other hand, I have to wonder – in the story, as it appears in English at least, the disciples do have faith in Jesus. They call upon him to quell the storm when they can’t take it anymore. But Jesus seems to have had an expectation that wasn’t met. He’s grumpy for some reason.
What struck me was to ask: what was Jesus’ expectation of the Disciples that was frustrated and unfulfilled? What was the faith that they lacked in this story?
I came back to something that I come back to a lot, something that keeps coming up. I think we tend to externalize Christ because it is safe. It separates him into a hermetically sealed container marked “Christ” what we can turn in our hands and investigate under a microscope but never really deal with.
If you cornered me and asked me to sum up the “point” of Christianity, I would probably say something like “Christianity is the art of becoming Christ.” At the end of the day, we have to deal with things like when Jesus says ‘you will do greater things than these in my name’. We have to deal with what Jesus might have wanted in the above story – for the Disciples to calm the storm. Do I think we could ever become Christ entirely? No. Just like an Olympic runner knows she can never run a three-minute mile. That doesn’t keep her from training, though.
We are driven by unattainable ideals because they call us to move beyond what we expect of ourselves. I think that’s the kind of faith that Jesus expected of the Disciples – the kind of faith we are called to.