I had a classmate at an evangelical Christian college who repeatedly defined faith as “stepping out of airplanes, knowing that God will catch you.” My response was that surely God had better things to do than catch folks stupid enough to step out of airplanes.
Matthew’s story of Jesus walking on the water with Peter can spawn bad theologies. Peter’s escapade can become evidence that God asks us to demonstrate faith by taking pointless risks. Or Jesus’ reproof, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” can lead to belief that if our faith is only strong enough, no harm will befall us. Setting the bar that high for faith can result in feeling afraid to admit our fears and doubts to others, ourselves and God. Further, when bad things happen—and they will—we may believe that our lack of faith caused this harm or that God isn’t powerful enough or compassionate enough to protect us.