Who Is God to Me?
Matthew 16:13-16 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
I have a habit of putting myself in a story and wondering how I would perform. Would I have answered Jesus’ question correctly? The disciples had lived with Jesus for some time and had seen him perform many miracles. So, when Jesus asked Peter about his identity, Peter provided the right answer. Frankly, it seems that this was an easy Sunday school question. When in church, even I can usually answer correctly.
Under different circumstances, I wonder if I, like Peter, would fold under pressure. Matthew later records (Matthew 26) how, when confronted with the question of Jesus’ identity (after Jesus’ arrest) by a little servant girl, Peter denied knowing him. When in the presence of Jesus, Peter courageously proclaimed his identity. When cornered by this little girl, Peter’s courage fled and he lied through his teeth to save himself.
I can identify with this Peter. In certain situations, when I need God, I proclaim my intent to follow him. When my life came apart, I promised God that I would go to Africa to be a missionary if He would just get me out of my mess. I often do this to God. When it works for me, I declare my commitment to him. In church, my words are bold.
Like Peter though, I sometimes get a little soft on that commitment when confronted with the world. I have never faced the threat of physical harm as the disciples did, but still, I have this desire to not be a religious nut. I want to follow God, but I do not want to be a bible thumper or Jesus freak. In church, I am all courage and bravado. Put me in a situation where my faith may be mocked by man however, and I go all weak in the knees.
The underlying defect, is as always, my focus on self. I want what I want and honestly, I want to be popular and well-regarded. Being a bible thumper may considerably undermine that in my estimation. I have told this to God many times. I have told him that I want to follow him but I just do not want to get too crazy with my faith. For me, my destruction has been public, so I think God laughs a little when I tell him how I worried I am about my reputation.
Here is the reality. If my faith is worth anything, if Jesus is the messiah and if God is God, then my faith is worth everything. I doubt that I can take him too seriously. In my pride, my reputation seems monumentally important. When I keep my focus on God, I can see how ridiculous that concern is.