God didn't promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears and light for the way. - Anon
Sunday, March 27, 2011
"Who Do You Say That I Am?"
Jesus asks this question of his disciples in Luke 9:20 and it has been in the scripture readings for the last two Sunday's and has started me thinking.
Thinking about what the answer to that question is, thinking about how his disciples answered the question and about how we answer that question. Thinking about the impact of that answer and our response to it and how it will affect the way we live our lives. If we answer as Peter did in verse 20, you are "the Christ of God" we are then asked to follow him. Do I follow Jesus? Do I even really know who is he? I would certainly answer as Peter did. But can I ever really know him? I have spent most of my lifetime trying and I am not going to give up, no matter how hard it is. I believe the relationship is worth the effort.
Not everyone would answer as Peter does, some call Jesus a great teacher, some say a prophet, some say a charlatan. It seems to me the answer to this question is the crux of how Christianity was founded. If we do not understand who he is and what his purpose was in coming to this earth we are truly lost. If we pretend that his sacrifice on the cross was unnecessary or that he was not raised from the dead, then what do we gain in following him. We would be following a facsimile of him, one of our own making, one that would lead us nowhere, one that would have us laboring for salvation by works rather than "faith alone". I heartily agree with C.S. Lewis who so eloquently addresses this issue in Mere Christianity. If you have never read the book I would encourage you to do so. I also think that if you are struggling with your "religion" and wondering about whether or not to go to church or to leave one church for another, the question you should be asking of the church is "Who do you say Jesus is?" The church that answers as Peter did would be a good place to start. Once we find our way we can then strive to follow him. Jesus himself says in John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
Am I willing to "take up my cross" and follow him? Am I willing to suffer for my belief in who Jesus is? I would like to think so, but really how can my "suffering" if you will, even compare to what others see elsewhere in the world, especially Christians in Asia and the middle east. Yet I see daily how our religious freedoms are being eroded. One hardly dares express an opinion about religion or morality for fear of being called intolerant, ignorant or a bigot, even when we speak the truth in love, we are shouted at, laughed at and belittled for our words. I also know that I can never suffer as Jesus himself did. Have you ever seen The Passion? No movie before or since has ever depicted the suffering of Christ as it does. I sobbed and sobbed uncontrollably and had to look away more than once, it was excruciating to watch.
I have also been convicted of my lack of faith and failing to follow Jesus, in every way, in every day and I struggle to find the right balance, to be in the world but not of the world. Asking myself how that is done with truth, grace and dignity? And admiring those who seem to be living in that balance. Living for Christ is a lesson that takes a lifetime to learn and I'm still learning. Sometimes I despair at the burden of teaching my children this lesson, but really I know that they must come to faith on their own.
So I am asking you today who do you say Jesus is? Can you answer he is "the Christ of God"? If not I would urge you to start seeking out the truth, find a church home, talk to a pastor, pray with a friend, read your bible, do whatever it takes and live the life God intended for you.
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