Blessed… Who Do They Say You Are?

Now when Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Human One is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” He said, “And what about you? Who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Then Jesus replied, “Happy are you, Simon son of Jonah, because no human has shown this to you. Rather my Father who is in heaven has shown you.  I tell you that you are Peter. And I’ll build my church on this rock. The gates of the underworld won’t be able to stand against it.  I’ll give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Anything you fasten on earth will be fastened in heaven. Anything you loosen on earth will be loosened in heaven.” Then he ordered the disciples not to tell anybody that he was the Christ. (Matthew 16:13-20, Common English Bible).

I am about ready to move on from this passage and we will do so tomorrow. But, before we do, I think there is one more question we need to ask. Jesus did not ask this question of the disciples in our lesson, but I still think it is important. Who do they say you are?

When my boys were younger and still at home, both said at some point words to the effect of, “Dad, I don’t care what other people think of me.” While not an out right lie, it was also far from the truth. I argued at the time, and still believe the real meaning of the statement is, “Dad I don’t care what you or your generation think of me.” The boys said that wasn’t a true interpretation but I remain unconvinced.

The truth is, for all of us, we really do care what others think of us. If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t have a problem with doing right. That was a subject we touched on a bit last night. It is hard to live out being a person of faith when we are surrounded by people who are far from living out the faith. We don’t want to seem like a stick in the mud or a party pooper. So, we go along to get along. The problem is, we really do become the hypocrite Christians are often accused of being.

If we are to be the person of faith God calls us to be, we are called to be people of love. Jesus said, “…This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other” (John 13:35, Common English Bible).

What do people see, when they see us? This lesson is important because it asks us who we believe Jesus to be. That is a big deal. If we don’t know who Jesus is, how will we ever know who we are to be? I am intentionally finishing on this question because by now, hopefully, we have all answered Jesus’ question, “Who do you say I am?”

As people of faith in Jesus, we are called to reflect Jesus. Scripture reminds us that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). So, we are to reflect love to the world around us. Is this what the world sees in us? I would hope, but I know from watching people around me, and even more when I reflect on my own conduct, all too often we fall short of the goal. We do not reflect God in Jesus Christ. We do not reflect love.

That is the bad news. The good news is, God loves us anyway. God knows we will not be perfect in this lifetime. As much as we might want it to be otherwise, we will fall down. Yet God is there to help us back to our feet. That is called grace. And, no matter how often we may miss the mark, God’s grace will be there to help us through.

Who do they say I am? It is my prayer that people can say about me, “There is a man who may not always be who he desires to be, but works hard to reflect to love of Jesus to the world. And, when he falls short, he depends on God even more.”

Who do they say you are?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thanksgiving,

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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