“Most human interaction is for better or for worse. Each moment with another person can be an opportunity for discovery and growth or for the erosion of identity and the destruction of one’s personhood.”
This quote is from Robert Bolton’s 1986 book “People Skills”, and I think it highlights the enormous potential that we carry with us, every day. We carry the potential both to curse those around us and to bless those around us.
Each moment that we are with another person we can listen to them, we can encourage them, we can comfort them. We can, if it is appropriate, challenge them, inspire them, confront them. We can always speak the truth. We can always be loving – as love is described in 1 Corinthians 13.
Or, as is often easier, we can ignore them, snub them or put them off. We can crush their hope to connect with us simply by “getting on with our business”.
In the gospel reading set for today, Jesus walks on the water (Matthew 14:22-33). Jesus is clearly working from a different rule book, and Peter wants to join him. Peter is a fisherman. He knows how boats and water work. Or, how they usually work. Peter allows his faith in Jesus to challenge the ways he has always looked at water, and he steps out of the boat.
Will we allow our faith in Jesus to challenge the ways we look at the people around us?
In our song this morning, “Oceans”, there is the line “You call me out upon the water – the great unknown, where feet may fail.” This must be exactly Peter’s feelings as he steps out of the boat. But it’s the next line of the song that gives us courage: “And there I find you, in the mystery”. We can step out onto the water with faith, because we know that it is Jesus who is calling us.
When you’re with another person, and you find you have the opportunity to bless them, take the step with faith. Allow Jesus to call you out of the boat of your safety, to encourage a person whom you wouldn’t usually encourage, to comfort a person who doesn’t “deserve” comfort from you, or to be patient and kind in a way that Jesus would be.
Please notice, I am NOT suggesting that we put ourselves in harm’s way. I’m suggesting that we love our neighbours the way we want to be loved ourselves – the way that Jesus loves us. And I’m suggesting that when Jesus suggests we trust him, we fully trust him.
That is my hope and prayer