Who Do YOU Say I Am?

“Identity politics” is all the rage now. We take a few words or even feelings about ourselves and weave an entire identity out of our undisciplined passions and call it a “community.” We segment the population into “rich” or “poor” “white” or “black” or “hispanix” or any other made-up group and then we dump folks into the buckets we think they belong, all the while, we don’t actually know these persons at all.

And how do you think this is working out for our so very “intelligent” and “Affluent” society?

It’s a disaster, and our descent into making politics a religion has segmented us to the point of no return. But, hey, “divide and conquer” has always been the evil one’s method.

On the other hand, the desire for an authentic knowing of ourselves and a knowing of others is natural, good, and necessary. It’s hard work actually knowing someone else. That’s why marriage is always martyrdom. Identity is very significant. The disaster comes when we reduce our identity to a fantasy or just one aspect of our selves. So, how do we come to a healthy identity?

Look at our lesson today in Luke 9:18-22:

At that time, it happened that as Jesus was praying alone the disciples were with him; and he asked them, “Who do the people say that I am?” And they answered, “John the Baptist; but others say, Elijah; and others, that one of the old prophets has risen.” And he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” But he charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

This scene in Luke’s Gospel is a pivotal moment for the disciples. They are confronted with the question that every one of us has to answer at some point in our lives: “Who is Jesus Christ?” The Lord starts by asking the disciples what they hear among the people. Who do the people say Jesus is? And the disciples give the answers that seem to even be popular today. Jesus is the reincarnated “Ascended Master” of this or that great teacher. Jesus is a revolutionary, and so on. But then the Lord confronts the men closest to Him and who have traveled with Him and have seen His ministry and His actions and heard His wisdom. “Who do YOU say that I am?”

St. Peter, always the impetuous one, jumps in and answers for the group: “You are the Christ (Anointed One) of God.” Yep. Peter gets it right.

You see, if we miss the identity of Jesus, we automatically guarantee we will also misunderstand our own identity. You may ask “Why?” and I’m happy to share.

First, Jesus is God in the flesh. He is fully God! The Church tells us that God loves His creation so much, He entered into His creation through the Virgin birth and the godly young woman we know as Mary, the Theotokos. Jesus being God Himself means He is our creator, so He will know who we really are better than anyone else including ourselves! God created you. God knows you. God loves you. God wants you to know yourself. So, God comes among you as one of you to show you WHO YOU are created to be!

Next, Jesus is fully Man. Jesus takes on a full humanity, except sin, and He lives as a fully human Person. By Him coming to us as fully human, He makes visible His intention for humanity when He created us. He lives among us as One of us and gathers all that it means to be truly human into His Self. By seeing Him and watching Him and entering into communion with Him we can now know what it means to be truly Human created in God’s image to be made into His likeness!

Finally, Jesus enters into real suffering, death, and life again, to show us the extent God will go for us and our salvation. Jesus suffers real suffering so that we know our sufferings are real AND survivable! Jesus enters into death, mortality, to show us that He intends to abolish the power of death to ever hold us as slaves ever again. Jesus is the Savior of humanity and seeing His love and sacrifice for us invites us to love and sacrifice for others. He shows us what humans can be IF ONLY they know Him!

So today, do you know yourself THROUGH knowing Who Christ is? The fallen world will attempt to con you into believing you are your passions or your skin tone or your education or your bank account. But that is all a delusion and a lie! You are made to be like Christ so that your eternity granted to you by His loving gift will be enjoyed forever. Living Orthodox on Purpose is the only way to know Jesus and yourself!

P.S. Dear Lord, I need to know Who You are. And I need this because knowing You sets me free to truly know myself and those around me. Grant me, Lord, strength, humility, and love for You so that I will seek You in every part of my life. You are my Lord and Savitor. You are truly the only Lover of mankind. Make me like You, O Lord. Amen

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