Monday, April 4, 2016

Who Am I Really Saying He Is?

“Who do the crowds say that I am?” It’s a question Jesus asked his disciples to which they replied, “John the Baptist or Elijah or one of the prophets come back to life.” The general populous had heard and seen for themselves what Jesus said and did and had concluded that he was most certainly a great man of God. Some even begun to hope that maybe, just maybe, this Jesus was the promised Messiah—the one they’d been waiting for to change their lives.

Then Jesus asks the disciples, “And you? Who do you say I am?” The disciples had witnessed even more than the crowds. They’d followed Jesus from town to town and even helped him in his mission to preach the Good News and heal the afflicted. They most certainly believed he was a holy man. Maybe a few of them silently began to wonder, as did some in the crowds, if he was the Promised One who would make things right again in Israel. Only impetuous Peter had the tenacity to blurt out what some were thinking: “You are the Messiah” with such conviction that it could only be an understanding given him by God.

That’s usually where that story ends. But let me tell you my part of the story. Last year I picked up a book at a used book fair entitled “Who Do You Say That I Am?” The book is a collection of answers written by a priest in his personal study time to each question asked in the bible. His family found his work as they were going through his belongings after his death and published it. I began to wonder how I would answer those questions:  Who do those around me say that Jesus is? And who do I say he is?

Today’s society is a mishmash of coercion and public opinion of the cult of fake tolerance. Tolerance is preached and revered as if it were god but is not practiced for all. This tolerance is reserved only for the popular opinion or the perceived underdog of the day. Don’t believe me? Post on social media that you are pro-life or believe only in a strict definition of marriage and see how fast you are no longer tolerated—or worse, how quickly you are attacked. Who would most people say Jesus is today? I believe they’d say that he’s either good or bad, holy or evil, real or myth, God or imposter. Pretty much what the world thought about him 2000 years ago.

But me—who do I say he is? Let’s be careful here. I’m not asking myself about a verbal response to this question. I’m asking what do my character and my actions say about my understanding of who Jesus is? Does my character and life reveal him to be a good teacher, or merely eternal life insurance, or perhaps a version of a holy Santa Claus who keeps track of all my naughty and nices? Or do they reveal to the world that with all my heart and soul and mind, I know him to be the Son of God who loves us to the depths of his own sacrifice? If I buy into the whole Son of God, died for my sins, rose from the dead thing, does my life show it? If the Holy Spirit is indeed in my heart leading me, changing me, sanctifying me, and marking me as his own, does what I do and say exemplify that? Let’s get specific here—when I get cut off in traffic, what do the people in the cars around me know about Jesus by my actions? If you looked at my checkbook journal, what would it say about who Jesus is? When I speak, what do my choice of words and conversation say about who Jesus is? What does how I choose to spend my time say about who Jesus is? Make no mistake—everything we do and say speaks volumes of who we believe Jesus to be. In 1 Peter 2 we’re told that we are his chosen people, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation. We are God’s special possessions declaring the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. We are his embassaries, his image bearers to the world. We are to “live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse us of doing wrong, they will see our good deeds and glorify God.”

So perhaps the better question to ask myself is, “who would others say Jesus is when they look at me?” Is there enough evidence of his grace, love, and power in my character and my life that they might begin to wonder that maybe, just maybe, there’s something about this Jesus and they want to know him better.

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