A place to ponder the awe and mystery of God in everyday life.

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi, and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?”  Mark 8: 27-30

Well this is a question guaranteed to make us squirm, isn’t it?  It is, ultimately, a question of evangelism.  And evangelism causes most mainline Christians to cringe and get defensive and irritable.  We just don’t “do” evangelism very comfortably.  The average Lutheran invites someone to church once every 23 years.  And since it is easier to invite someone to church than it is to tell someone what trusting Christ means to me, I don’t even want to guess how infrequently we talk to others about Jesus.(1)

This is not a malady known only to Lutherans, even if we do call it, “Lutheran Laryngitis”!

Why is that?  We certainly don’t want to risk offending anyone!  Or embarrassing anyone – including ourselves.  And we don’t want to risk rejection.  We’ve been carefully taught that politics and religion are the two subjects that polite people don’t discuss.

We have confused private and personal.  And while faith is about a personal relationship with God, we were never meant  to enjoy God without spreading the Good News!  I read somewhere that many American Christians are functional atheists.  Whether or not Christ is a part of our life really doesn’t change how we live our daily lives.  God and the church are more about pop psychology and “feel good” messages than it is about a life-transforming relationship with our triune God. What difference does it make if we do or don’t believe in God?

Sadly, for many of us, it may not make that big of a difference.  We are much quicker to talk about our favorite sports team or our children or grandchildren than we are about our faith and the difference it makes.

Jesus asked, “But who do you say that I am?”

I admit it is frustrating to try and bring someone to Jesus.  You can’t just walk a friend into Jesus’ office, introduce them, and then leave your friend to glean wisdom from the creator of the universe.  No.  Jesus doesn’t arrive on demand. We can’t even all agree on what Jesus would have us do.  And yet, Jesus is always present, working to redeem us and our broken lives and communities.

Jesus asked, “But who do you say that I am?”

Our relationship with Jesus is personal.  But it shouldn’t be private.  The most wonderful thing in the world wasn’t meant to be kept quiet.  It was meant to be shared.  Jesus commanded it after all.  He never gave anyone permission to keep their faith to themselves.  He commanded us to tell the world about his love and forgiveness. We bring the message.  God changes hearts.

A good starting place is to answer this question that Jesus asks us.  And then once we’ve figured out how to answer it, what will keep us from sharing that good news with others?  Often God uses the hardest experiences of our life to allow us to reflect Christ’s light in someone else’s darkness.  We may lend hope and faith to someone who is struggling until they are able to see it for themselves.  When you look back on the darkest time(s) of your life, how did the light of Christ shine in?

* Here are the questions and the prayer that Pastor Eric Burtness listed with today’s question.

* What major misconceptions about Jesus have you heard?

* Think about how you would describe Jesus to a friend who has had no connections with the Bible or the church.  Who would you say Jesus is?

Jesus, you are God with us and Son of God.  You are my Savior and the Savior of the world.  You are my Lord and the eternal Lord of all creation.  Keep me always close to you.  In your holy name I pray.  Amen.

(1) David Daubert, “A Cure for Lutheran Laryngitis,” The Lutheran, February 2007 cover story.
(2) * Material from Book of Faith Lenten Journey: Beyond Question by Erick Burtness copyright © Augsburg Fortress. Posted by permission. All rights reserved.

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