Wednesday, August 13, 2008

God's faithfulness

I just preached a sermon on Matthew 14:22-33 focused on Peter and the disciples in the storm and early in the morning Jesus comes walking across the water toward them. They're scared - who wouldn't be? Is it a ghost? Even after Jesus assures them it's him, Peter isn't convinced and essentially tells Jesus to 'prove it!' Once in a seminar given by Martha Stortz, professor of religion, she encouraged us to read a Biblical story from the perspective of all the characters in the story. This time I was curious about the perspective of the other disciples. In their minds, Peter wouldn't have been showing great faith - which is traditionally what I've heard about this text. In their experience they are trying to keep the boat from capsizing, they are scared, and they need Peter's help since he is an experienced fisherman. So, might they see Peter's actions as foolish, arrogant, selfish, or even downright stupid? Because if Peter goes over the side of the boat they'll also have to figure out how to fish him out of the sea! I see the action in this text, the faithfulness, on the part of God in Christ - not in Peter's action. God is always reaching to us whenever we are foolish, arrogant, selfish and stupid - God is always saving us. It's is God's action, not ours, and certainly not Peter's that constitutes faithfulness. And then I asked the question, "what happens when the last act of your life is a stupid one?" I proceeded to talk about my nephew Taylor, who died in a car accident - not wearing a seat belt and running a red light. It was stupid of him - and it cost him his life. And yet, Taylor had grown up in the faith, he believed in God, he was baptized, but the last few years of his life he struggled with many things. His faith, his sexual orientation, God, and the feeling he didn't belong and wasn't loved. He was deeply loved! By his family, by his friends and co-workers. Over 500 people attended the wake and funeral. But Taylor didn't love himself and his last act was a stupid one. Yet - God reaches to him and saves him. God draws him into his arms of mercy and grace and loves him so fully now that Taylor has to know he's loved. It isn't our faithfulness that saves us - even when we do our best - but especially when we're at our worst. It is God's love and faithfulness to us that saves us!

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