You've heard it, I know you have. "Don't believe anything you hear, and only believe half of what you see." There's a lot of truth in that. You can't always believe what you hear. We all learned that in elementary school, or at some retreat, where you line a bunch of folks up, whisper something into the first ear, and just see what it becomes by the time it gets to the last person. And as far as what we see, if there are 10 witnesses to a car crash, there are going to be 10 different versions of what happened. That's just the way it goes.
I have been blessed to be witness to God's hand at work in a lot of things, from something as simple as a hunting trip, to situations that could make or ruin a life. Some of those things I'm not sure I would have believed if I had not witnessed them with my own eyes. But at the same time, I've heard other stories of things that God has done in other lives, and I have no reason to doubt them. So, what do we do? Life is funny like that.
In this morning's readings, Peter is talking to an audience unknown to us. I could probably do a little research and get an idea of who this letter was written to, but all he says in the greeting is: "To those who through the righteousness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours..." That could be anybody, literally.
And maybe that's what makes this so cool. Anybody could hear this and believe, but they can't be eyewitnesses to the things Peter witnessed. All we have is what he is telling us, and here is what that is: "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, 'This is my Son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased.' We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with Him on the mountain."
We have the stories, lots of stories...and we have the list of those things in our lives that we have no explanation for, except that it was an intersection with the Divine. The question then becomes, how do we get folks to believe our stories and the ones recorded in scripture? I guess the short answer is, allow them to become eyewitnesses. Let them in on what has happened in your life through the way you interact with them. Going to church on Sunday is no good if you cuss the checkout clerk at Walmart on Monday, or throw the other guy a bird on the way to work.
I will be the first to admit that I'm not perfect, and there would probably be lots of folks willing to bear witness to that. And I do realize that the way I deal with folks says alot about whether or not even I believe the stories. And if they think that I don't even believe the stories, how can I convince them to? Just a thought.