Saturday, September 12, 2009

Who are you?

This Sunday the Anglican Church is inviting people Back to Church. A reflection for the day based on the Gospel Mark 8 27-38 is found below.

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?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Messiah.’ And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’
He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’

Mark 8:27-38 (The text is taken from The New Revised Standard Version of The Holy Bible)

In some ways this is a very straight forward passage and in others it is not!
This is not very surprising.
Any relationship question reveals to us
that relationships are both
straight forward
and complex.
Straight forward in that we should just get on with it
Complex in that relationships are deep rather than shallow
Inter-related rather than staright up and down!

So we see both of these things in this conversation:
What sorts of things are people saying me? asks Jesus
And some pretty confusing and conflicting things
get said.
There has been a flurry of letters to the paper this week
which indicate just that
People have some whacky ideas
about what God, Jesus and the Bible
are all about.
These range from:
the angry God who demands conformity to a strict set of rules
the warm fuzzy God who is all love and light
and the moral compass type of God who gives us slight hints about how to behave.

But this question doesn't actually become electrified
until Jesus says:
But who do you say that I am?

This is the Christian way of doing things.
If we want to know what God is like
our focus is on Jesus.
He is the human face of God,
He is God saying to you and me
I want to relate to you
as a son, a dauhter, a friend a brother.
I want to RELATE to you.

Whether you have come Back to Church
or whether you are here every day
this is what the Spirit is saying to us today.
I want to relate to You

What then happens is important!
Jesus tells his disciples
This relationship is going to have its difficult side
there will be times when it will seem as though
it's not working
or people are against you.

Jesus is reminding his disciples that
this is what relationships are like.
And if we are serious about having a good relationship
with God
then parts of it will be hard.

Just as surely as being a friend, a husband or a wife
a parent or a child
will have difficult times.

We can be like Peter,who says
"But I don't want it to be like this"
and Jesus really has to say
"Grow up!"
In the real world
the worthwhile things are worth working towards.

Some of us, coming Back to Church or not,
will know that this relationship with God
has at times been difficult
even impossible.

This doesn't alter the fact
that Jesus is still saying to you and me.
I want you to be in a relationship with me.

If you can grasp that sometimes it is hard
but it is always worth it
....if you want save your life then sometimes you will have to struggle
and maybe even lose it...
then maybe that's where we are today.

This week

  • Take time to explore this offer of a relationship

  • However strange it might seem, what about talking to Jesus about who and what you think he is and what you want him to be for a little time each day

  • Is Jesus saying to you and me If you will put your life and concerns aside, and give yourself to me (lose your life) then I will be able to give myself to you (save your life)

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