Summary: with faith we can do anything because God is always at our side.
I have recently finished reading a book by a Chinese Christian, who is known across the world as brother Yun. Brother Yun is a wanted man and at the moment he and his family are exiles from their own country. Yun is a man of great faith. But because of his faith he has undergone much hardship and has spent many years in prison because the Chinese authorities saw him and other Christians as a threat to the state. In China today religion is suppressed and Christians are persecuted. The Chinese authorities will allow you to follow the faith of the state, which is governed by them but anything else is seen as evil. Yet despite all of this there seems to be a great revival, which is taking place in China and the Christian faith is growing each day at a rapid rate. The people who are Christian leaders place themselves and their families at great risk each time that they either teach or lead worship. Yet despite all of this people are more than willing to turn to God and follow Jesus and his teachings. It is reported that because of the great faith of these devoted Christians many miracles are being performed in China. Brother Yun has undergone beatings, torture, humiliation, hard labour, disease, fear and uncertainty and yet during this time of trial he remained strong in his faith, knowing that God was with him all of the time. As onlookers it may seem horrendous when we think about all of the things that has happened to this man. Yet to Yun it was a time of development, learning and outreach to others and in many cases conversion. If anyone wants to know the meaning of faith I would suggest they read his book “The Heavenly man.”
Throughout the Bible we see many examples of peoples faith and because of their faith great things have happened. The blind have been made to see, the lame have walked and the dead have been brought back to life. When Jesus met people he recognised who had faith and who did not and as he meets with us today he still recognises the faithful amongst us. Is our faith strong whilst we are here in this building and then as soon as we walk out of the door does it begin to grow weak? Do we need to be constantly reminded about God’s power?
In our reading today we see that Peter had faith in Jesus but at a moment when he lost his concentration and began to doubt himself his ability to walk on water began to weaken and he began to sink. Then he called out to Jesus to save him and he was saved. As a child I remember seeing a picture of Peter and Jesus on the water. It’s the painting where the artist has placed Peter in the middle of a sea of huge monstrous waves. He is half way submerged in the waves with his arms both raised above his head, and he is looking terrified. Beside him on top of the water is Jesus. Jesus looks as though even the wind is not touching him. He stands calmly looking at Peter and reaching out his hand to him. But as I have read this part of the gospel I find that there are three things that I want to share with you today:
Act on impulse for God
My wife tells me that I often act on impulse. When I go shopping I always manage to get things that we perhaps don’t really need and I usually spend more than is necessary. She says to me “Why have you bought these things? We’ve already got so many of them in the cupboard already.” I am the sort of person who needs to go shopping with a list and stick by it so that I am unable to get things we can do without. Peter was a man who also acted on impulse. He spoke before he had thought about the situation he was in, and he had acted before counting the cost. He did it when he confessed his undying love for Jesus then he denied him when challenged by the authorities. But Peter was ruled by his heart. Here we get a very good picture of what Peter was like. He was someone who was eager, someone who loved Jesus and someone who had absolute faith in him. He along with the other disciples was in a boat out on the lake. It was being buffeted about by the wind then suddenly before their eyes they saw this figure coming towards them on the surface of he water. You can imagine their fear as they had this apparition before their eyes. But then imagine their joy as they realised who it was. They saw Jesus walking towards them on the surface of the water and yet without a thought Peter wanted to go out to Jesus.