Encountering the Holy
Tuesday, November 9, 2010

 

“Who do you say that I AM?”

 

                I visit often this question, both personally and in my teaching and writing.  Who do you say that Jesus is?  Obviously this to me is the most important question that every person must answer.  And the spectrum of answers is vast.  Some view the question with disdain.  How dare Christians even impose such a question on humanity?  The question is viewed merely as imposing one religion upon another.  Others see really no importance of the question at all.  God nor faith play any role in their lives (or at least so they believe), so to ponder such a question is to spend frivolous time on what is not important.  I think it is safe to say that these two views encompass atheists and agnostics as well as people of other religions.  But there are other answers within the Christian faith which are of the most importance to me.

 

                Inside the church there is a wide variety of answers.  In most modern seminaries, the answer is a watered down Jesus, who is powerless in the face of human events, tragedy, and politics.  Their Jesus is merely a good teacher, who left a body of sayings from which we can pick and choose in order to shape our lives.  There is a step up from that in the pews of the Western Church.  Jesus, to them is a good teacher and in some forms a God who can give them eternal life.  They even go as far as believing in the virgin birth, sinless life, miraculous ministry, and resurrection from the dead.  But even with those core beliefs their Jesus is diminished.  He is not the life changing, kingdom establishing, and world conquering, Holy God who came to give life and life abundantly and to establish the beginning of the Eternal Kingdom, the new heaven and earth.  I suspect that the latter makes up a miniscule number in the modern church.  But in reality, only the Jesus of the latter can truly make a difference in our lives, our families, our churches, our government and the world.

 

                One day, Peter and the boys were done with an unsuccessful day of fishing.  They were sulking about the poor catch and mending their nets for the next day’s attempts.  Then along came Jesus.  In their minds, it was the Jesus of the modern church.  He was an anemic carpenter, who needed to stick to preaching and leave the fishing to those who knew the ways of fish.  He was a man who might be able to give a good lesson about God, but should not be part of their lives except on the Sabbath.  And it was here that they encountered the real Jesus.

 

                Jesus told them to go and cast out their nets where there were no fish.  Grumbling, Peter and the boys obeyed.  They went out and cast their nets in deep water (who ever heard of catching fish where the nets don’t even touch the bottom).  And when they did they caught more fish that they could imagine.  It was then that Peter understood that the Jesus of his theology and thought life was inadequate.  He was in the boat with Someone very different than he first believed.  He was in the boat with a Man who could change the elements to suit His purposes.  Maybe their early theology did not allow them to say that Jesus was God, but they knew He was something far different than they first believed.  And when Peter came to the realization that he was in the presence of the Holy, his response was startling.

 

                Peter said, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.”  There is something that happens when we have an encounter with the Holy that changes the way we view Jesus.  Of course on this side of the cross we either expect the miracles or reject their existence.  For those who expect them, they get mad at Jesus when He doesn’t perform them to suit their needs.  And for those who reject their existence, they appeal to coincidence.  But it was not to the miracles in which Peter was responding.  It was to the Holiness of God.

                 We cannot live in a world in which we give God little relevance for our lives and expect to have such an encounter.  But there is a place we can live where a Holy Jesus becomes our reality.  That place is a quiet corner where we meet with God in Scripture, meditation and prayer.  And when we meet Him there, we will find our own sinfulness revealed, find the God who can change us into the image of His Son, where the Kingdom is at work, and where life becomes abundant once again.  Pick up your Word, a good A.W. Tozer book, Chambers’ “My Utmost for His Highest” and combine that with prayer and meditation and there you will find the right answer to the question, “Who do you say that I AM?”

Kingdom Road Ministries
PO Box 503
10 South Main, Suite 201
Victor, ID 83455
903-262-5088
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