theunfamiliarname

Preparing for Ordinary Sunday 24B

In Uncategorized on September 2, 2009 at 12:34 am

Who do you say that I am?

There was a syndicated article published several years ago
talking about the different faces of the God
that 9 out of 10 Americans
say they believe in.

A quarter saw God as Distant.
The Creator of the universe, but one who leaves it alone.

23% viewed God as chiefly Benevolent,
expecting good of us, but forgiving and asking us to care for others.

16% saw God as Critical,
the kind of bearded, almost disinterested Big Fella,
unlikely to intervene or to punish.

Nearly a third of Americans believed, it said, in an Authoritarian God,
angry and ready to bring divine retribution to bear,
by natural or unnatural means.
Wars and tsunamis take on extra meaning for this group.

Now, four categories is totally inadequate,
and you might be thinking that this study
tells you rather more about the Americans who took part
than the nature of God,
and perhaps that’s the point.

In the Book of Genesis we read that “God created humankind in his image”,
and some might argue
that humankind has been repaying the compliment ever since.

We tend to choose the picture of God we want.
We like.
We need.

But unless we are satisfied that somehow we know all about God,
or more importantly, that we ourselves know God fully,
…and both positions mean, at best, we’re self-deluded –
we need to be asked and to answer the question Jesus asks in our gospel:
“who do you say that I am?”

Not who your parents though I was,
not who you though I was in Sunday School,
but: “who do you say that I am?”

Who is Jesus for you, and what does he say, what does he represent?

What does he carry, and what does he ask you to carry too?

I could tell you a little bit of who Jesus is for me,
but that is not your picture,
and the cross I bear is probably not yours.

If I asked you that first question,
“Who do people say that Jesus is”,
you could give me a plethora of answers,
much like those first disciples.

We are called, though, to claim an image and an understanding of Jesus
within the saving work of God
as our own.

Perhaps you could do worse
than examine some of the images you’ve grown up with,
and to hear again the question,
who do you say that I am?”.

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