…A reflection on relationships.
Everyone has people. People they call family. People they call friends. People they call coworkers. People they just know by name or reputation. People they think they know from social media. People they wish they didn’t know. People.
We are everywhere and hopefully belong in someone’s circle of people, right? We are all on this earth and in this country and on this beautiful coast together. Like it or not. So how do we as a people relate? How do we get along? How do we decide who our people are or aren’t?
I recognize that not everyone on the Emerald Coast follows the Christian faith, but stay with me for a moment. I recently read a passage that reflected the essence of our answer regarding people and humanity and how we live among and around each other, and I’d like to share it with you. Matthew 16:13-17 says this from the Message Bible:
“13 When Jesus arrived in the villages of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some think he is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
15 He pressed them, “And how about you? Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17-18 Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.”
These men to whom He asks this question have been by His side day and night, especially Peter. But yet Jesus asks them who OTHER people say that He is first. I thought this was odd. Where was He going with that? He asks about people who don’t really know Him but yet have an opinion or a thought. He asks about people who have not spent as much time with Him and, of course, their answers vary. None of which were correct, except…Simon Peter’s.
So what am I saying? I believe this revelation was a knowing Simon Peter had about who Jesus REALLY was. Something inside of him just knew. He knew because of the time he invested to get to know…because of his relationship and proximity of closeness he had with Him, and this revelation was a result of this intimacy. A knowing based on time spent. Further, Jesus proceeds to tell Simon Peter that He is NOW going to tell him who he, Simon …REALLY is. WOW!
And now what do we do with this?
First, I can totally relate. How often have I summed up a person and formed an opinion without even really knowing them? How often have I had people tell me that they thought one negative way about me before they got to KNOW me and then realized I wasn’t that way at all. We have all done it. All guilty! But truthfully, we ALL want to be known. Not in a stardom way but just in a way that you have people who just get you…understand you, spend time with you and KNOW you. Yes…the good and the bad…they know both sides. Your experiences, joys, failures…they love you all the same but aren’t afraid to rejoice with you or speak truth to you. How often do we reciprocate this? I mean really invest in someone before rendering an opinion of WHO they are?
Too often, quick judgment calls are made that surmise a person by one face-to-face meeting or from one social media post. We assume, presume, sum up and label before we KNOW them. What if we weren’t so quick to form an opinion and just left the ballot circle empty? What if we tried to believe the best or at least tried to understand? What if we decided to just simply not judge, good or bad, unless we really invested time in knowing? What if we simply just focused on knowing…and if we can’t know, if time or distance doesn’t allow, then we let it go? Let them go, all the labels I mean. I know that sounds like a fairytale and not real world, but just think about it. How often do we let other people sway our opinion about another? It may not even be direct persuasion. It could be comments on someone’s post that cause us to sum up who a person is or isn’t. Or it may be the media trying to fulfill political agendas that we buy into. It could be a friend who tells us a story about someone that we really don’t even know but it sounds just awful and bam!!! Opinion formed, bias in place.
I think this is what we can learn and the point of this passage. That to truly KNOW someone and be able to establish identifying who they REALLY ARE comes with a commitment. It comes with the commitment of investing time. Time spent getting to know why they are the way they are. Time spent understanding why they say what they say or act the way they act. Time spent. Experiences, life, circumstances shape us each in very different ways…ways that another could not pretend to understand without this time spent. Believe me, I realize this is not an easy endeavor to begin to apply in day-to-day life but after reading that passage, I aspire to be that person. I want to be that person who is more understanding. I want to be that person who tarries in forming an opinion and that person who is quicker to let labels go. I want to be that better version of me. I want to be better equipped and open… open to new encounters, new friends, new people wjp I might have the privilege to get to actually KNOW. How about you? We are all here together. Let’s make room for kindness in the KNOWING!