FROM THE PASTOR’S PEN –ANSWERING THE QUESTION
Throughout my life and perhaps for yours too, I have periodically run into profound questions needing to be answered. Some of these hauntings of my inner being sought emotional answers of self-awareness while others required commitments of issues which defined me. I wish to say that this is different from wondering with imagination and a sense of vague possibilities but asking the deeper question of worth, ability and cost. I have pondered the question of marriage, parenthood, changes in jobs and relationships all which, once decided, made a world of difference. I have also had to look at complex and often charged issues and feeling conflicted tried to push off moral, ethical and spiritual decisions only to be haunted by these issues again and again. I have been troubled by an inability to decide and feared to decide incorrectly.
The most powerful question in the Bible occurs in an exchange, as Jesus asks of Peter, "Who do you say that I am?" (Matthew 16:13-23) This question arises after Jesus has spent many days preaching, healing, feeding and loving the lost, forlorn and down trodden. He is told that many believe He is John the Baptist or a returning prophet. The disciples, caught up in the excitement of the moment, are ecstatic over His and their success. Jesus knowing the hearts and minds of those around him doesn't seek those who are on a band wagon of success but disciples who know and are committed to building God's Kingdom. Jesus is also aware of the human tendency to waver in the face of adversity and even betray our knowing, better selves to save our skins or just our faces. He pointedly asks of Peter, "Who do you say that I am?" He replies, "You are the Christ!" (The Messiah!)
This is the question which, for me requires continual reflection and assistance. As we are finishing our summer study on the Holy Spirit and learning of the gifts and fruits offered to us as the Children of God, I am surprised how important this question truly is. If Jesus is to us what we profess in our confession of faith and in our hearts, we need to keep this question and our answer in the forefront of our being and ponder it. It is the answer to this question which is the basis for answering all the other questions that challenge and face us daily. It is a question that at times I don't want to face due to my lack of willingness or courage, because in answering it, like Peter, it requires me to face my uglier inner self, if not now, then down the road. For like Peter, I have betrayed both myself and Jesus through sins of commission and more often sins of omission. The asking of this question and the response tends to bring both responsibility and a sense of admonishment, the gentle and sincere guiding of our souls into righteousness. To answer it honestly is to understand the depth of our sin and our deep need for forgiveness. The need for the Messiah! Until we bow before Christ "we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us". Once we do our actions become a living answer to the question.
When Jesus returns to his disciples in the Book of Acts, His first words are "Peace be with you!" His return means the disciple’s faith is well placed and merited. They begin to understand the greater scope and plan of the Divine agenda and see too their need to get with the program in full. Their questioning hearts are stilled and reassured as ours can be also, because the Divine connection brings answers.
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