Who Do You Say I Am?


I wrote this a few years ago when I’d been thinking about a few lines from the good book. They come from Luke’s account of what Jesus did when he walked the earth a couple of thousand years ago.

Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

I suppose that if we reset the scene in modern times it might look more like:

Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”

They replied, “Some say you’re a good man; others say a teacher; others say a religious leader; others say a misunderstood man; others say a fictional character; others say an irrelevant historical figure; others say a prophet; others say a bigot; and still others, that you’re a guy who gives us a couple of days off each Easter and at the end of December.”

Then comes the question that should be directed to each one of us.

“But what about you? Who do you say I am?”

Jesus was very wise in the way he asked his question. (After all, he is Jesus.) He says to his disciples, “Firstly let’s clear up what everyone else is saying about me.” It can be very easy for us to parrot someone else’s idea of who Jesus was or is. There are so many options that we can easily pick one that sounds reasonable to us.

But Jesus doesn’t give the disciples that option. After clearing up the range of things that others were saying, he focuses in on the individuals in front of him and says, “But What about you? Who do you say I am?”

I believe he’s doing the same today. We need to be aware that there are many ideas of who Jesus is but in the end we need to answer that second question for ourselves.

Jesus looks at us all saying “But What about you? Who do you say I am?” Not who do your parents say I am; not who do your workmates say I am; not who does Richard Dawkins say I am; not who do your philosophy books say I am; not who does your pastor say I am; not who does your church say I am, but “Who do you say I am?”

Whether we say we believe the Bible’s idea of who Jesus is or not, we can’t afford to just grab someone else’s ideas on this one. We need to be open enough to have our views challenged. We need to look at how we came to hold the views we do and decide if that’s a good enough reason to think that way.

All the arguments about what people believe about Christians and their views are secondary and irrelevant until we decide what Jesus is about.

If we truly look at the evidence for ourselves and decide that Jesus was just a man we’ve got nothing to lose but if he was who the Bible claims and we don’t acknowledge it, our life could be at stake.

I’m siding with Peter on this one when he answered, “Who do you say I am?” with “The Christ of God.” Exactly what that means for me and the way I live my life is something that I will continue to grapple with for the rest of my life.

Who do you say Jesus is?

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What’s with all the swearing?


There’s been quite a storm this week after a federal politician was sworn into office as part of the government’s new front bench.

Federal Labor MP Ed Husic has been attacked in social media for using a Koran when he was sworn in as parliamentary secretary by the Governor-General.

The Australian-born member for the western Sydney seat of Chifley, the son of Bosnian immigrants, in 2010 became the first Muslim elected to federal parliament and is the first to take on a ministry position.

He was sworn in as parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and parliamentary secretary for broadband in Canberra on Monday. – SBS News

Social media went into overdrive with people attacking Mr Husic’s Facebook page.

Overnight, his Facebook page attracted posts from people angry he had used a Koran instead of a Bible to take his oath.

“You have created history of the worst order, to swear in on a Koran!! This is Australia with Australian Laws,” said one poster calling themselves Dinki Di Sheila.

“Swore to serve Australia using the same book terrorists do to serve Al-Qaeda ….Disgusting,” said another. – SBS News

There are a number of questions that this story raises for me, questions that go beyond knee-jerk reactions from rednecks, but before I get to them I need to say that I’ve met many politicians from a range of political parties and on the whole I have found them to be men and women of integrity who want to make a positive difference. They differ in their ideologies, and some have ideologies with which I vehemently disagree, but most have good intent. (Yes, I know that good intent doesn’t make bad political decisions acceptable, but that’s a discussion for another day.)

So now to the questions this story raises for me. Mr Husic has told media that he is a ‘non-practicing Muslim’. So what value is there in swearing on a book that he does not claim to follow?

That then leads us to the majority of parliamentarians who swear their oath on the Bible. How many of them actually claim to follow the teachings of the Christian Scriptures? So what value is there in swearing on a book that they do not revere or follow?

Furthermore, when our former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, took her oath, she also swore on a copy of the Bible, yet she claims that she is an atheist. So what value is there in swearing on a book that is based on a God that she doesn’t believe exists?

I’m not wanting to attack Mr Husic’s decision to acknowledge his heritage by swearing on the Koran or other parliamentarians for swearing on the Bible, I’m just interested in your opinions.

I should probably say that I also found it quite odd that when I was called up for jury duty some time ago, most of us swore our oath on the Bible, yet there were probably only a couple of us that would have considered ourselves Christian.

Is it appropriate to continue using the holy books of any faith to swear an oath? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section of this post.

By the way, I’m interested in a range of opinions but I will remove any comments that aren’t respectful. If you want a bit of an insight into what that means here, you can check out my Comments Policy.

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Creating a Daily Faith Habit

I was disappointed, but not entirely surprised, to recently find out that most Australians who call themselves Christians aren’t involved in a regular Bible reading habit. In fact, recent research shows that less than two out of every ten Australian Christians are engaging with the word of God on a daily basis. I suspect the figures wouldn’t be much different in many other nations.

Knowing that we’re all shaped by the input we receive, we have to ask the question, “If Christians aren’t drawing their worldview from the Bible, what is forming their values and understanding of big life issues?” If our faith is to be more than a way for us to feel good about ourselves and our world, and about learning to be ‘nice people’, we need to grow our understanding of who God is and of our place in this world. As Christians we believe that God chooses to speak to us through his word, the Bible. If we’re not reading our Bibles regularly, is it any wonder that many feel that God is silent in their lives?

If you’re interested in beginning to develop a better engagement with the Bible, to get a better understanding of what faith is about and who Jesus really is, let me suggest an easy first step.

Check out eDevotional. It’s a site run by Bruce Chant and it not only gives you a short reading from the Bible each day, it helps you understand what that text means. Each daily Bible passage is ‘unpacked’ in a few short, easy to read and understand paragraphs. My hope would be that eDevotional would be just the start for you but if you don’t start somewhere, you’ll stay right where you are.

As well as the short, daily devotional thoughts, you’ll find resources to help you delve deeper, so that when you’re ready you can begin to follow a Bible reading plan and learn how to develop a devotional time each day that will not only inform you about who Jesus is but help you get to know him through the power of the Holy Spirit.

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Beatbox Nativity

What’s the most unusual telling of the Christmas story you’ve heard?

In their article The Beatbox Bible: Rapping vicar rhymes the story of Nativity and becomes internet hit, Britain’s Daily Mail is reporting that a beatboxing vicar has retold the Christmas story in a rather unusual way.

Reverend Gavin Tyte (aka TyTe) was a professional beatboxer before dramatically changing careers and his Nativity video has had more than 15,000 views on YouTube in three weeks.

The 40-year-old vicar of Uplyme Church, in east Devon, raps: ‘Welcome to Beatbox Bible’, before continuing his sermon online to parishioners.

Enjoy watching the vicar’s efforts in the video above.

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Broadway Actor’s One Man Show

Bruce Kuhn has performed on Broadway in Les Misérables, and has toured with shows such as the highly acclaimed Chess. He’s also been D’Artagnan in The Three Musketeers and Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Bruce is currently putting his experience and talent behind an very different performance. He’s touring parts of the world performing his one man show, The Gospel of Luke, which comes to Perth over the next few days as part of his Australian Tour.

… brilliant work. A riveting, inspiring look at the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus that will appeal to people of all faiths and even the uncertain. It is as witty as it is moving: you rarely see storytelling as compelling as this, and it goes without saying that the text is gorgeous. Kuhn’s energy and focus are remarkable. Change any weekend holiday plans you may have had so you can catch it. – Gail Westerfield. The Island Packet (Hilton Head, S.C.)

He joined me on the phone this morning as part of my morning radio programme on 98.5 Sonshine FM. You can hear our conversation by clicking the play button on the audio player below.


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