I think the Bible is a lot less dramatic that we sometimes think.
I’m not sure if it’s the old school King James, Charlton Heston, or something else but accounts from Scripture are so often presented and read in an overly-serious, over-dramatic (and probably slo-motion) kind of way. We picture everybody with these stern looks on their faces as they talk and even crazy displays of God’s power are met with chiseled, frowning faces, as if to make it clear that this is no surprise to them.
But the more I read the Bible, the more it seems like most accounts are just about normal people like us trying to follow and experience the same God.
At church yesterday, the pastor read the account of Jesus walking on water from Mark 6.
The disciples are in their boat as the storm rages and the angry seas crashed. It’s dark and loud and confusing. And then out of the mist comes a shadowy figure in a tan-colored robe, walking across the water with that same stern look on His face and stealy resolve in his eyes.
Or maybe not?
After reading the story again, it seems like it was probably a lot less dramatic than I used to think.
Here it is:
Jesus Walks on Water
Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home. After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray.
Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, but when they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost. They were all terrified when they saw him.
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage! I am here!” Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped. – Mark 6:45-51 (NLT)
It’s obviously a pretty incredible story, but a few totally non-dramatic things stuck out to me.
Verse 48 says that Jesus intended to go past them. Haha, what?! Instead of this super dramatic moment, maybe Jesus was just being practical about getting to the other side of the lake! I know He’s God and all, but it’s funny to imagine that He was just walking to meet up with His disciples on the other side of the lake, He then sees that they’re in a boat and was like: “Wow, I can’t believe I caught them…I figured they would have made it by now. Oh well, I’ll just meet them there.” And proceeds to keep walking.
The only reason He didn’t pass by them was because they saw it was Him. So then in verse 50 He’s like: “Hey, guys! Don’t freak out, it’s just me!” (my words, not His)
This same account written by Matthew goes into more detail about Peter stepping out onto the water to join Jesus and John’s version says that once Jesus stepped into the boat, they were immediately at their destination (Jesus must have been making up time for not being able to just walk there on His own).
Bo Boshers, who’s like a student ministries guru, talks a lot about the “Be With Factor” when it comes to discipling students. Essentially this means that discpling students doesn’t have to be some dramatic, overly-serious, produced thing. Instead, one of the most powerful forms of discipleship is simply being with students in every day life. Just doing life together.
Pouring into a student could involve inviting them to run errands with you, hanging at the mall to buy their brother a birthday gift, having them over for a causal, chaotic dinner with you and your kids, watching a game or awards show together, or much more.
Students respond much more to a relational investment than some dramatic form of attempted discipleship like breaking down the Livitical Law or trying to read a Dallas Willard book in less than 6 months. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things for students who are ready, but just like Jesus seems to do when simply trying to get across a lake, we can make teachable moments by simply taking advantage and being open to the Holy Spirit in normal, everyday life while we hang out with students.
And if nothing else, student ministries makes it possible to call things like playing video games, going out for ice cream, or seeing The Hunger Games “ministry”! (that’s why all senior pastors are secretly super jealous of student ministry leaders..!)