Get Out of the Boat!

By John Campbell

If I were to ask you to comment or react to that statement, you would probably want to know more about why the statement was made, in order to determine if it was a positive or negative statement. For example, if you were on the Titanic and were told to get off the ship, it would be a positive command. If, however, you were in the lifeboat and were told to get out of that boat, it would not be viewed as a welcome directive.

One could assume there is something wrong with the boat, and we are being warned of the possibility of danger ahead. For most of us, however, that type of order would indicate to us that we are either in the wrong place, or we are not wanted by those in the boat. Either scenario is viewed as negative or rejection and are difficult for us to deal with much less understand.

This misreading has been experienced by many of us and is showcased in Mark’s account of the meeting between Jesus, his disciples, and the demoniac of Gadara. (You may know him as the first manager of a Legion club.) Mark 5: 1-18 is a fast-moving account of a half day in the life of Jesus, starting out with the landing on shore and the meeting and greeting of the welcoming committee straight from the graveyard. We’re not told the man’s name, but some of my closer friends suggested I call him “crazy John.”

We are told chains and jails could not hold him and no one was strong enough to control his actions. He was to be ignored as much as possible, and a good safe distance away from him was the reasonable, obvious choice. After a less than cordial exchange of names, Jesus provided new dwelling places for all the demons, and a pork sale was initiated but you had to bring your fishing rod to take advantage of it. Word spread and the townspeople came to “check it out.” Apparently seeing 2,000 pigs acting like salmon did not demand their attention, but “crazy John” dressed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, in his right mind, was more than they could handle, so, they told Jesus and his friends to leave, which they did.

Now who would feel more like “one of the group” than that man who had just experienced a touch of Jesus. It made sense that he should join the “official party” and he rightly concluded that with my reputation, and Jesus’ power, this will be ministry at its provable finest. This will work, and I’m ready and available. I’m certainly “one of the group” he thought and then he heard, “Get out of the boat.”

He must have thought, Jesus must be talking to someone else and not me, after all this is such a natural. The disappointment he felt must have been devastating. Along with many Church of God laity, I wanted to get in the boat with the official party, only to discover that God’s place for us was not in the boat, traveling to the uttermost parts of the earth, but back home with our family, friends, and neighbors, telling what great things God has done for us. It is called witnessing, ministry in its purest form, and in my estimation, one of the highest callings God could offer.

The most natural reaction to God’s working in our lives is to desire to do the will of God. We need to realize that this desire and fulfillment can be obtained without man’s credentials. We say we believe in the priesthood of all believers, but our actions do not bear that out. Many of us have lost our enthusiasm because we did not wind up as card carrying ministers, but if you will be quiet, I know you will hear, “Now that you are out of the boat, go home to your family and friends and tell them what great things I will do for them.” Godspeed my fellow ministers!

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