Let me preface this by saying that these thoughts aren’t rooted in originallity. Sometimes, though, you hear something that’s just too good to keep, and you have to shout it from the rooftops. I heard it this weekend. So now I’m shouting.
People who go to church like to talk about a lot of different things. We get hung up on useless things like theology and arguments about methods and traditions. We come up with an idea of how we think it should be done, and we put everything into that idea, whether it fits or not. And everyone. That hurts, I think.
We talk a lot about Jesus. Because it seems like you can’t go wrong there. Of course, if you ever want to be amazed at the minute little details about Jesus that can be argued about, sit in on a Seminary class sometime. It’s honestly pretty sad.
But what I heard this weekend rocked my little world, because it is so simple, and yet so crucial.
Jesus asked Peter a question. A simple question. You may know the one. Because He had been going around shaking up everyone’s traditions, claiming that He was the Son of God, and generally stirring up a lot of stuff. Stuff that ultimately got Him crucified. Since nobody knew exactly what to do with Him, where to categorize Him in their finite little human minds, they were saying all kinds of stuff about Him. Some were beleiving that He was who He said He was. Others were saying He was some other prophet come back from the dead. Some were saying He was a straight up lunatic.
So, Jesus asked Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:13)
See, the profound thing here, though, is that everything in our lives is seriously as simple as that question. Jesus’ life, by any critic’s standard, was a turning point in history. Even if you believe that He was a complete fake or totally insane, you cannot help but recognize the way His life, actions, and teachings shook up everything in a way that nothing or no-one else had quite accomplished before. So we have an option: we can ignore that (which is the equivilant of shoving our heads into the sand and pretending it isn’t there), or we can recognize that, and wrestle with its implications. Which brings us back to that question, a question that leaps off the page and presents itself to us.
Who do you say that He is?
C.S. Lewis wrote that Jesus was either a liar, or He was Lord. But He can’t be both. If He was lying about being the Son of God, if the Bible is false in it’s account of His rising from the dead, then He was a “morally good” man by the standards of His time that wanted people to believe that He was something more. But, if He was telling the truth, and if the Bible’s account of His rising from the dead is true, then that changes everything.
So, if we’re going to see any history at all as being influential on our lives and society today, then each of us has to answer in our own hearts: who is Jesus to us? A morality that we once believed in but have forgotten? A cool concept to talk about on Sundays? A threat to our ability to have fun and be in charge of our lives? An historical figure? A divine King who sacrificed everything for us? The facts are there. We have to do something with them. The answer that you come up with will, for you, change everything.