Who Do They Say You Are?

In the grand scheme of things have you ever taken an inventory of the way others perceive you?   For a believer this is not necessarily a far-fetched idea.  You might remember that Jesus did this very thing when he asked the disciples in Matthew 16 and again in Mark 8: “Who do you say that I am?”   Public image, even in biblical times, was a factor that determined what message was getting out and how people perceived the information. As a person of faith, this is part of your witness whether you like it or not.  In the public square, Jesus had the expectation that no one was confused about what his disciples believed.

I sometimes get frustrated with the “Jesus of the Lambs” version of our savior.  Somewhere, even before cyberspace, people fomented this idea that Jesus is kind, loving, gentle, never speaks up, never aggravates and always leaves everyone smiling after he has left the room. If you’re taking that image as your personal model, nothing could be further from the truth!  Jesus himself noted that because of his teaching households would be divided. The true test of faith is what you are willing to say when the pressure is on and everyone can see it.  Scripture advises us: “Therefore, do not throw away your confidence; it will have great recompense. You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised.  … my just one shall live by faith, and if he draws back I take no pleasure in him.  We are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and will possess life” (Heb 10: 33-39).

Faith is not a spectator sport or something that you practice safely in the shadows and far away from controversy.  Faith has everything do with how people see you in public as well as private.  It is not up to us to be viewed as a wild-eyed fanatic.

But when we think of Jesus and the marks of his character how do you measure up?  Are you proud to be a believer publically and privately? Do you act to defend Christian principles without hesitation?  Do you address injustice and discrimination in the public square?

Do you act with compassion when presented with someone who is homeless or in need? Does your speech reflect someone who is kind, uplifting, and loves God?  Do you speak up when someone says something that you know would be offensive to the Lord?

Do you gossip?  Do you ever use the phrases  “I was only kidding” or “I didn’t really mean it”?

All of the above questions might be part of the information that you could think about if you encountered Jesus and he asked you: “Who do you say that I am?”

Who are you, really? This season of Lent this might be an ideal time to re-think your public/private image.  Be honest with yourself.  This could be an opportunity that could change your life in ways you never expected.

Copyright © 2013, Kathryn M. Cunningham

Kathryn M. Cunningham

Kathryn M. Cunningham

Kathryn holds a Master’s in Education from Saint Xavier University. Most recently she completed Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies from The Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. This recent degree was part of a “retirement project” after teaching for 35 years. She has also worked as a spiritual director, music minister,council member and prayer team warrior. Kathryn has a deep interest in catechesis for the people in the pews. As a “sort of” convert she finds the wisdom of the Church a source for encouragement, joy and survival in a world not sure of anything. Her writing has appeared in diocesan publications and on-line sites, most recently for Zenit. To learn more about Kathryn check out her thinking at: www.atravelersview.org">ATravelersView.org.

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