Matthew 14:22-33 Children can follow along in Spark page 294 and another water story in Shine On page 212.
Verse 31 - ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’
This is a difficult story for many people to read in today's science filled world. It doesn't follow the rhythms of the scientific method, for it is not able to be reproduced. As far as 99.9% of us have experienced life, we have never seen anyone able to walk on water. So with one quick read, we dismiss this story (and some of us dismiss the entire book of Matthew, or the entire Bible, or all of religion in general - but that is another conversation). But with many (if not all) "miracle" stories that challenge our current understandings of science, we miss the point if our only goal is scientific reliability and historical accuracy. Sometimes I repeat this point so often that I am surprised when people still focus solely on those two aspects of a story. They are very important, but there is a deeper point being made, and a harsh challenge for us today.
The deeper point is showing that even when (or 'if') Jesus could walk on water, would we still believe he is a child of God, living God's dreams for this world and life? Loving the poor, sick, outcast, forgotten, and despised is not easy. Would someone walking on water really change our minds and hearts and actions so that we would repent (ie 'change')? I wonder about politics today. Regardless of your political preference, we get the feeling today that even if Obama walked on water the Republicans would still fight his agenda. Similarly, even if George W Bush walked on water, the Democrats would still fight his agenda. Many people have tried changing the world without being in professional politics, and rarely have they been taken seriously. I wonder about people in my life that I have deeply respected their deep discipleship and lifestyle in choosing to follow where God calls them. I don't always follow their example. I'm not sure if they walked on water if that would make me follow them.
In this story, Peter longs to be like Christ and with Christ. Peter is willing to do the mysteriously scary, even if he "falls" short. Yet Jesus' question is probably too often read as a disappointed teacher or parent - assuming he meant "You of little faith, you did not believe enough." However, I think it is an honest question. Jesus really does want to help us in our faith. We have people setting examples in this world for God, that really want to lead us be examples and followers of Jesus. They keep asking (in subtle and direct ways), "How can we help you believe enough to live this way?" That is the key for me in this story. I could care less about walking on water, and I think the same goes for Jesus. He was primarily interested in gaining followers to further the nation of God - a nation built on love, forgiveness, trust, hope, peace, and community.
Events & Evites:
Tory - Pastor of Children and Youth Faith Formation.