DONíT ROCK THE BOAT

Have you ever heard the expression, "Don't rock the boat!" I am sure most of us have. If you are in a small boat it doesnít take much to rock the boat and cause it to take on water. If you keep rocking the boat you can easily turn it over or sink it by taking on to much water. So, it is much safer not to rock the boat.

 

We live in society today that demands that you donít rock the boat. They want you to be politically correct and they donít want you to offend anyone. This why you donít call people fat anymore, you call the horizontally challenged and you donít call people short you call them vertical challenged. We are no longer supposed to use the word man to describe things because it sexist. So, instead of fireman or policeman, we are supposed to say fire person or police person. Instead of calling two men or two women gay we are supposed to say they are simply living an alternate lifestyle. The list could go on and on how our society does not want us to rock the boat. They want everyone to get along with each other no matter who they are or how they live their life because it is safer not to rock the boat.

Unfortunately, this same mentality has found its way into the religious world and the church. Some Christians today would rather hold hands with every religion that claims Jesus as their Lord even if everything else they do goes against what the Bible teaches because they prefer to have unity no matter what the cost. It is a whole lot easier to agree to disagree with your religious friends than to rock the boat and take a stand for Godís, truth, but the fact of the matter is that our God expects us to be people that rock the boat when it comes to conforming to the ways of the World.

Godís Word is full of examples of Him calling His people to rock the boat by going against what they were used to doing and by going against worldly ways. For instance, consider what God asked Abraham to do in:

Genesis 12:1  Now the LORD had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, From your family And from your father's house, To a land that I will show you.2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

Have you have stopped to think about how great this request was for Abraham. At this point his father had died, but he was living in a rich city. He knew what to expect and how to provide for his family. Also notice what Joshua says about this in:

Joshua 24:2 And Joshua said to all the people, "Thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River in old times; and they served other gods.

 

Joshua lets us know that Abraham grew up in a family that worshipped many gods. This would have been how Abraham lived his life. Now God has spoken to Abraham and made this unusual request. We need to understand that it was unheard of in Abrahamís time for a family to split up and go their separate ways. They relied on each other and worked together and moved together.

 

God was asking Abraham to rock the boat and trust in Him to go to an unknown place based solely on the Lord speaking to Him. Now that was a hard thing for Abraham to do, but eventually he did it because he was willing to rock the boat. If Abraham had the attitude that many have today, he would have never left his familyís life of idolatry because it would have been the easy thing to do.

 

What if this had been you instead of Abraham? What would you do? What if God asked you to do something that was outside your comfort zone? Would you do it? Well, if you love God and you trust in His wisdom you should be willing to do whatever He ask you to do.

 

We all know that Abraham listened to God, and the promises God made to Abraham came to pass, but God was not finished with Abraham rocking the boat because when he was old and finally had a son with Sarah, God decided to test him as we read in:

 

Genesis 22:1 Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."2 Then He said, "Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."3 So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

 

Again, put yourself in Abrahamís shoes. He had waited for many years to have this son that was promised by God. God had made it possible for Sarah to become pregnant and give birth to this child even though she was to old to bear children. Now God wants Abraham to rock the boat again and offer up his only son by Sarah as sacrifice. Can you imagine having enough faith and trust in God to do something like this? Well, Abraham did, but of course would not allow him to actually sacrifice his son because that it not Godís way.

 

Since Abraham was willing to rock the boat, he was blessed and his descendents were multiplied like the grains of sand.

 

Rocking the boat is not always an easy thing to do because sometimes it means that you have to do things that go against your nature and what you are used to. This is what happened to the children of Israel after that had been slaves many generations, and Moses plays a key part in this event.

 

Most of us are familiar with the story of Moses. He spent his first 40 years growing up in the Pharaohís home until he killed an Egyptian and ran off. He spent the next 40 years as husband, father and farmer. At the age of 80 God asked Moses to rock the boat by going back to Egypt to tell the Pharaoh to let His people go.

 

At first, Moses refused to rock the boat because he liked his life just how it was. He made excuse after excuse of why he was not the man for the job, but eventually he can around and he and his brother changed the fate of the children of Israel, and after 10 plagues the children of Israel were let go.

 

Once the children of Israel were safe from the Pharaoh on the other side of the Red Sea many of these Jews struggled with their new freedom because they were not ready for the boat to be rocked. They were use to being slaves and they knew what to expect and now they had to live in tents and rely on God to provide them with food and water. Since some of them were not ready for change they wanted to go back to their lives as slaves.

 

This is what can happen to new Christian today as well because they began to think back to how they used to live their lives and they start longing it for it even though they know it is wrong. Sometime their desire to return back to their worldly ways caused them to leave God and to stop rocking the boat.

 

Another challenge the children of Israel faced was when they started living in the promise land because the people they defeated had many gods and they had to rock the boat in order to keep these false gods out of their lives. Unfortunately, many times the Jews decided to conform to their surroundings and they would engage in false worship to these idols.

 

They always say history repeats itself if you donít learn from it, and this is exactly what is happening today. Far too many Christians have stopped rocking the boat and they have decided to conform to society and with any religious group that claims Jesus as their Lord. If we keep taking the easy the path, we are going to end up just like the children of Israel when they did this, which means we are going to end up spiritually bankrupt.

 

God is a patient God, but He will not tolerate our compliancy with the world for long. When we choose to stop rocking the boat to be friends with the world, we stop being friends with God. As John says,

 

1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.16 For all that is in the world -- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life -- is not of the Father but is of the world.17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

 

 

 

 

Paul also says:

 

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

 

Even though our society demands that you not rock the boat, God says that we must when it comes to staying away from worldly ways.

 

So far we have looked at several OT examples of how God called on his people to rock the boat. Now I want to look at a few NT examples.

 

The first example I want to point out is conversion of Saul. Saul had grown up being taught to be a Pharisee, and he was the best in his generation at being one. His fellow Pharisees looked up to him. As Paul said, I was:

 

Philippians 3:5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee;

 

Pharisees like Saul viewed Christianity as great threat to their nation, so Saulís solution to this problem was to arrest as many Christian women and men that he could and cast his vote against them, and he no did not mind if these people were put to death. Again notice Paul description of himself as he stood before king Agrippa:

 

Acts 26:9 "Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.10 "This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.11 "And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

 

Saul had everything going for him, he was popular and respected. He was at the top of his class. No one would ever suspect that Saul would ever rock the boat and change his ways, but Jesus confronts Saul and wants him to rock the boat as we continue with verse:

 

Acts 26:12 " While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,13 "at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me.14 "And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'15 "So I said, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.16 'But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you.17 'I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you,18 'to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.'19 " Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,20 "but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.

 

Granted it took an appearance of the resurrected Jesus to motivate Saul to rock the boat and change his ways, but it is amazing that someone that dedicated destroy Christianity would become a Christian himself and an apostle. Even though he had to give up his fame and respect of his fellow Pharisees and face death around ever corner he was willing to rock the boat for the Lord. As Paul declared:

 

Philippians 3:7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ

 

How about you? Are you willing to rock the boat in your life and change your ways to the Lordís way? Are you willing to lose the respect of your friends and family to follow Christ first? When we decide to become a Christian, Godís Word makes it clear that we have to change our lives just like Saul changed his. We have to be willing to put God first even above our parents, spouses, and children. While this can be difficult to do sometimes if we want to be pleasing to God we must learn to rock the boat in this area of our life.

 

A man by the name Ananias was involved in Saul conversion and Jesus asked him to rock the boat as well as read in:

 

Acts 9:10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord."11 So the Lord said to him, "Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.12 "And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight."13 Then Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem.14 "And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name."15 But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.16 "For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake."

 

Ananias was a man who willing to serve God and do anything for Him, but when Jesus asked him to go to Saul it caused him to hesitate because he knew Saul reputation. So, Jesus was asking Ananias to do something that didnít make any sense to him and something the he would never consider doing on his own, but Ananias trusted in God, so he was willing to rock the boat and go to Saul.

 

Sometimes when we study our Bibles we find some things that just donít make sense to us why God would want us to do certain things. For example, many in the religious world cannot understand why we donít use musical instruments in our worship to God, and they cannot explain why they are mentioned in the OT as part of worship to God, but they are not mentioned a part of NT worship. When they read passage such Col. 3:16 and Eph. 5:19 that only authorize us to sing they just donít understand because they donít see anything inherently wrong with them.

 

When it comes to topics like this we must be willing to be like Ananias and accept what God has asked us to do. Yes, we may be hesitant at first and scratch our head, but we must be willing to respect the wisdom of God over our own wisdom even when we may not fully understand why at the moment. How about you? Are you willing rock the boat and do what Godís Word says even when you donít understand why? Again if you love God and trust Him you should.

 

Our last example this morning comes from Acts 10. At this point in the growth of the church the only people that were being taught and converted to Christianity were Jews and proselytes. As we read at the beginning of our lesson all the families of the earth would be blessed through Abraham in Gen. 12:3. It was time for the Gentiles to be taught the Good News and God is going to ask Peter to rock the boat in his life to do this.

 

We need to understand that Jews like Peter grew up being taught that it would make them unclean before God if they went into a Gentiles home, and they were taught to stay away from them. This caused many of them to become extremely prejudice of them, but God sent a vision to Peter of a sheet filled with common and unclean animals that came before him 3 different times and the Lord told His to kill them and eat them, but Peter refused because he had never eaten animals like this, but God told him:

 

Acts 10:15 What God has cleansed you must not call common

 

Peter was completely confused and while he was trying to figure out this vision the Gentile men from Corneliusí house were making their way to Peter because an angel had appeared to Cornelius earlier and told him to send for Peter so he could hear the words that would save him.

 

Next the Holy Spirit tells Peter,

 

Acts 10:19 Behold, three men are seeking you.20 "Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them."

 

This doesnít help Peter understand his vision, but he complies with the Lord and goes with the Gentile men. Now I donít know at what point Peter began to understand the vision, but by the time he arrived at Cornelius house he understood because he told them:

 

 

Acts 10:28 Then he said to them, "You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.29 "Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?"

 

Even though Peter did not fully understand Godís purpose, he was willing to rock the boat and to go to these Gentiles, which is what all of us should be willing to do for God even when do not fully understand the purpose of Godís ways.

 

Next Peter makes a statement that no other Christian at that time had understood.

 

Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.35 "But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.36 "The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ -- He is Lord of all --

 

All people no matter who they are open to Godís plan of salvation, and we should not show partiality. Instead, we should treat every person as a soul that can be won for God. Even if we were raised up being prejudice toward different ethnic groups, as Christians we must not be prejudice because we are all created in the image of God. This is what Peter had to do.

 

At first, his fellow Jewish Christians were not to happy about his actions as we read in:

 

Acts 11:1 Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.2 And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him,3 saying, "You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!"

 

Peter really had to rock the boat to follow God this time. He had to go against his ingrained prejudice and even go against the beliefs of his fellow Christians Jews. Again, I ask you the question, what would you do if you were in Peterís shoes? Would be willing set aside your prejudice and go against those like you to do what God has asked you to? If you want to please God, you should.

 

I can promise you if you faithfully follow after God and adhere to His Word without compromising with the world, you are definitely going to be rocking the boat quite often. So, while our society says donít rock the boat, as faithful Christians we have to ignore that plea and be willing to rock the boat in order to remain faithful Christians.

 

So, I hope this lesson has shown you how God has asked his people to rock the boat on many occasion, and how He wants us to rock the boat instead of compromising with the world for the sake of unity.