Who are the important people?
Who are the significant or important people in our world? This has always been a tricky area. Who is worth listening to and believing? Who should we follow? Today magazines and TV programmes tell us that so called celebrities are significant people. Magazines tell us all about what is happening in their lives, (or as it turns out a lot of the time what the writer would like to be happening), what they are wearing, not wearing, eating, and even saying. Others tell us the rich are the most important. Apparently their wealth and power make them wise. And political commentators help us in assessing what makes a good leader in our political process, and the kind of qualities we should look for. Charism is high. Compassion seems low. And so it goes, with whole groups discounted before they start. The poor, the young etc….
This has always been the case. We can see it in the story from Samuel. Saul was big, strong, brave, a fearsome warrior and a good leader in battle. Surely he would be a great king. Turned out he wasn’t very good after all. Enter David. There are a number of stories about the rise of David that come from a number of sources, which are all smooshed together in our book of Samuel. We heard about Samuel anointing David last week. This week we hear about David being willing to fight the giant Philistine champion Goliath. While the stories are different, they all agree David was not that impressive on first impressions. He was the youngest son of 8, he was still young and small, a shepherd boy. Not really leadership material by any measure. And yet, while he had flaws, he had heaps of leadership material. People were looking for the wrong things.
Paul had the same problem. He did not fit the model of successful church leader. People still wanted someone who was impressive to look at, zealous for the law, a powerful speaker and worker of miracles. It seems Paul was a little disappointing on all these points, and worse, kept getting arrested, beaten, threatened with death – not normal signs of success. And yet it is Paul we remember, not the others.
Same with Jesus disciples. While I am in awe of them even following Jesus, when the chips are down they struggle. And that seems to be the point. None of these people were super impressive, really. But the story of the way of Jesus is founded on them. And in this story, of the huge storm on the Sea of Galilee which defeats even these seasoned sailors, they ask the deep questions that at some point we all ask. They name our fears and draw us into the ongoing story of the people of God. The question that comes out or the darkest of times. “Do you not care that we are drowning?” How often have we honestly said that? We too often have grand ideas about who our leaders are, and who should be leading. These foundational leaders of the church are reduced to this question and all the doubts and fears it holds.
In these stories God invites to look at each person for what they offer, and not judge on all the normal criteria. Each story suggests God looks much deeper into a person to know who they are, despite all their failings, doubts and fears. We too are invited to look deeper, at ourselves and others.