It all started innocently enough.
I was preparing a sermon/homily on the Gospel (Matthew 16:13-20) where Jesus probes his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” Then shocking them by asking, “But who do YOU say I am?”
The unpredictable Peter broke the longish silence by blaring, “You are the Messiah/Saviour. The Son of the living God.”
I posed Jesus’ question to my Facebook friends; over 20 responded.
One emailed me directly. With her permission I share her thoughts.
Who is Jesus to me?
I don’t know anymore.
I used to go to church and hear people talk of Jesus in their daily lives as if they actually talk to Jesus and had a personal relationship with Jesus.
I don’t hear that anymore (from ministers … yes).
I don’t do it anymore either, so now I wonder if Jesus isn’t just the good part of your conscience. The part of you who is empathetic, caring, loving, forgiving, etc., and when you talk to Jesus you’re talking to the better part of yourself.
I don’t think I have had a conversation with anyone in the last year who has said that they felt Jesus had led them to do this or that.
I see many people doing good things and acting in good ways but no one says it’s because of Jesus leading them to do that.
Many of our friends and family never speak of God or Jesus or go to church, yet they’re very good people.
So I don’t know who Jesus is to me anymore.
I want to believe in Jesus.
I want to believe in the Trinity.
I just don’t know what I believe anymore, sadly.
I really wish you hadn’t asked this question because now it’s got me stumped as I don’t know what I believe and I guess I need to figure that out somehow.
Her words challenged me, and hopefully you too, to explore the deepest tenets of my faith and life practices.
Sitting here, my mind, emotions and spirit drift and meander somewhat aimlessly through a myriad of possibilities.
Could I, like Peter, respond to Jesus, “You are the Messiah/Saviour. The Son of the living God” or would I feel like a lost vessel drifting in a sea of unbelief?
While performing acts of charity—supporting refugees, helping individuals ravaged by natural disasters or doing random acts of kindness—is my attitude or motivation different from somebody who does not believe in God’s existence?
What happens when the structures we build, the traditions we enshrine or the spiritual walls we construct separate people from God rather than reaching out, welcoming and integrating them into a meaningful God filled, human directed life?
Are we wavering between God as the “old man in the sky,” lording over us from an external otherworldly location, and ET (the Extra-Terrestrial), who contends God resides within each person and only the individual can resurrect or resuscitate a lost or non-existent relationship?
I realize a 140 character tweet or a 10 second media message cannot adequately address the height, depth, width, character and scope of human faith and practice issues posed by my Facebook friend.
Yet, we need to try.
We can write a letter to or articles for this or similar publications.
We can organize church or community forums to wrestle with faith issues.
We can dialogue personally with one or more.
Maybe by examining questions and seeking new truths we can clarify our relationship with and understanding of God, which should never be stagnant but constantly growing and evolving in light of new experiences.
Hollis Hiscock welcomes your feedback.
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