When God acts unusually, we must act unusually. In the story of Jesus walking on the water, we have a vivid illustration of both unusual Divine activity and unusual human response. Jesus walks on water, so Peter walks on water, too.
The opposite of a stronghold is obedience. [See 2 Corinthians 10.] Obedience involves appropriate response to leadership. So, when God acts unusually, obedient response involves appropriate “out of the ordinary” behavior to God’s “out of the ordinary” actions.
Beware the concept that because the Bible is finished – and it is finished – that God cannot act in a way not included in the finished revelation. In Ephesus God did extraordinary miracles through the hands of Paul, and among the extraordinary, Paul’s sweat rags and work aprons were laid upon demonized and diseased people resulting in healing and freedom. Jesus did miracles to which people responded, Who have ever done things like this before?
How many times have you hear critics use this point of view to devalue and debunk moves of God? “We do not see this kind of behavior anywhere in the Bible; therefore, it is not God, but the devil.”
We call these “arguments from the silence of Scripture” because they argue that God gave us a finished Bible because God is finished doing new things. They conclude that God will never do anything He hasn’t already done up to the time the Revelation of John was completed.
This is, of course, an argument from the silence of Scriptures itself! We do know, from the Bible, that we must try the spirits to see whether or not they be of God. We must discern the spirit behind the action to understand whether it is true to God or a psuedo-spiritual activity.
But we can be certain that whatever did before, He can still today!
The Stronghold of the Common
A stronghold is spiritual fortress that captures the thinking. It functions primarily in the mind: “human reasoning and philosophies that exalt themselves as an obstacle to knowing God.” Obedience recaptures these captured thoughts, takes captivity captive, so to speak, by a Divine domination, “weapons mighty through God.” [See 2 Corinthians 10.]
‘The stronghold of the common’ is the direct opposite of ‘the dominion of the holy.’ The opposite of holy is common, not sinful. Purpose defines holiness. When someone or some thing becomes holy, it has been separated from the common and cannot be used for a common purpose again without defiling its purpose.
Commonness captivates what is set apart for purpose, and strangles it with the ordinary. Recall Jesus’ words about seed sown that grows up but remains unfruitful because it is choked by the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches. [See Matthew 13.]
When God acts unusually He is calling us into distinction, clarifying our purpose, setting us apart to His purpose. He demands an unusual response of us because we are now different, unique, “holy,” and marked for Divine purpose.
We don’t respond to a burning bush the same way we respond to every other desert shrub. We don’t follow every star, just the one that’s leading us to the King of the Jews. We don’t pour our alabaster-box anointment on just anybody facing death, only the Lamb of God.
The stronghold of the common does not call you to drunkeness, debauchery, and darkness. It calls you to remain ordinary when God is acting extraordinary.
Peter’s Uncommon Response to Common Circumstances
Do not confuse this story with the storm story. In the storm story Jesus is sleeping in the boat while they are in fear of the wind. This is not a storm story. There is no storm. Just a strong, contrary wind whipping up the waves so the disciples cannot crossover.
The contrary wind in this story is simply a deterrent to their progress to the other side of the sea. It is common for the wind to blow the opposite way from the one they need it to blow in order to crossover. It is extraordinary for the wind to obey the purpose of God on command.
We need to command the contrary, stop acting ordinary in extraordinary times, and ride the contrary wind into a fulfillment of destiny.
The disciples are not afraid of the wind or waves. They are afraid of Jesus. He is walking on water in the middle of the night!
They are afraid because they are not certain this is really Jesus. They have a stronghold of the common, a human reasoning problem we would call a superstition, and a near total failure to understand who Jesus is so they can understand who they are. They have no frame of reference for Jesus or anyone to walk on water, so they jump to the conclusion that Jesus is a ghost or a spirit!
Why? Because their minds say, Jesus doesn’t act like this. God doesn’t do this. This is not common, not usual, not ordinary. Therefore, only a spirit or ghost could walk on water!
Or, since we are in a boat, the only way we can be out here in the middle of this sea, everyone who gets into the middle of a sea must be in a boat as well. The only way to get above the water is to ride above it in a boat.
This activity reveals a hidden stronghold built with thoughts that are disobedient to their knowledge of God within the very people Jesus has chosen to lead His kingdom. They think only ghosts can do miracles, and they do not understand miracles because they do not fit into their preconceptions of normal.
What the Bible reveals is how things really work in the spiritual so we can understand the natural in the same way God understands it. We cannot remain common in our response when God is acting in uncommon ways. We will misunderstand God.
This is our faith, a belief system.