Friday of Week 25 in Ordinary Time
“But you,” he said “who do you say I am?””
I have been filling up personal detail forms all my life, ticking boxes and filling in blanks, each form asking me for details about myself: gender, race, religion, age group, occupation and so on. So much so that it is so easy now to give an answer when someone asks about you. Usually, we define ourselves by the work that we do, and other times it boils down to our ethnicity. But who are we really?
It is easy to be pigeon-holed into something when society imposes that onto you, whether subconsciously or not. But we are more than the boxes we check. God made us so much more than the forms that we fill. We are not just defined by our skin colour, or our religious beliefs, or even our sexual orientation. We are defined by what we stand for, what we believe in ourselves of ourselves, not what people would have us believe. When someone tells you that you are ugly and stupid and a “waste of space on this earth”, it is so dangerously easy to believe all the negative things that people say about us. Firstly, probably because what people think and say about us is important to us — we want to create a good impression therefore we think that what people perceive must be true (or at least that is what we tell ourselves). Secondly, and more importantly, we may think that we are not deserving of praise and positive comments maybe because of some mistakes that we have made in the past. It is so easy to believe the lies, so hard to see the truth. And so, we adopt the lies and make it our identity, telling ourselves that it is not possible that we are better than that. But believe me, WE ARE, for we are created in God’s own image and blessed with divine gifts from God. We are special to God; He has counted all the hairs on our head and knows each of us before we were born. He has a wonderful plan for each of us to “prosper” us and “not to harm” us and, when you think about how many of us there are, that is quite amazing.
But it is not just what we believe of ourselves, it is also what we believe Jesus is to us. For all the self-talk is nothing if we only have a half-belief of what Jesus can do for us and what He means to us. As Christians, we know that we were all bought for a price — the blood of Jesus shed for us on the cross. This is what we know because of what we have been taught and read in the Bible. In that sense, perhaps we feel a little far-removed from where fiction ends and where faith begins. It is not just a story. Jesus is not just the Son of God. Jesus is our saviour, our brother, our friend. Our guide and light in dark times, our strength and supporter in challenging times. Depending on our situation and problems in life, we may have called on Jesus to be one or more of those personas to help us. Some people might try to influence or question our belief in Jesus. They may ask things like, “how do you know He is real?” “Is He really the Son of God?” “How come He doesn’t answer your prayers?” The real question we should be asking is, what does Jesus symbolize for us? If we have a relationship with Jesus founded on prayer, we would have recalled those times when we have felt His presence in our hearts, the unexplainable yet overflowing feeling of joy. Armed with this, we can stand up to the doubts that naysayers try to impose on us.
“Who do you say that I am?” asks Jesus. And who do we say that we are? Let us examine our relationship with Jesus and ourselves, so that we can say with conviction and without hesitation, as St Peter did, that Jesus is the Christ of God and that we are God’s well-loved child.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Annette Soo)
Prayer: Lord, you are my saviour, my light, you have been my rock in stormy seas. With my faith in all that you are to me, help me to believe in myself as you believe in me. That I am special to God and that He has plans for me. Help me see my purpose and self-worth as you would have me see, not as others try to make me see.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for always finding a way to let me know that I am God’s child, wonderfully made and infinitely loved.