Okay, okay, Who do You Say He Is? - December 9, 1994
All semester I have been asking a simple question to you: "Have you heard?" If you have been reading this column at all, then maybe you have heard. Whether you have heard or not, I would ask that you please read this whole article. I ask that you please hear me out. If you'd like to stop reading, then that's okay. I will not force you. But, if you could, then please finish reading what I have to say. Thank you.
So the question is: Have you heard? Have you heard that regardless of who you are and what you have done, you can be forgiven because God loves us THAT much? I am often sad because of how angry people get at God. I mean, if you've been reading The New Hampshire, you've read some really well-written articles against the believing position, yet not any of those authors were willing to sit down and talk. It was as if they were not interested in a discussion. It was as if they just wanted to fight with their hands over their ears.
Jesus said a lot of things. It still amazes me the more I study his life. He said that he is the "way and the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father but through him" (John 14:6). And he asked a question. If you've been reading my stuff, then you know that I circle around before I make my point. Not Jesus, though, he cuts right to the chase.
Jesus had his disciples around one day when he asked a question, and here it is. "'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?'" (Matthew 16:15). So now I am going to change my question. I am not going to ask you if you've heard. If you've read this much, then you've heard. Now my question is: "What about you? Who do you say Jesus is?" After all you've seen and read, after staring at a night sky, after holding a child, after seeing the leaves change in New England, do you look at God and tell him that he's not real? You can do that, if you'd like, but don't do it rashly. Don't do it because you went to a Christian school and had it shoved in your face. Don't reject Christ because some televangelists had rip-off schemes. Please don't turn your back on Jesus because people calling themselves Christians let their child die by denying him a blood transfusion.
There is only one point. The question is asked: Who do you say Jesus is?
Peter, one of his followers, answered him. Want to hear how he answered? "'But what about you?' [Jesus] asked. 'Who do you say I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God'" (Matthew 16:15,16).
There is way too much confusion going on here at UNH, and it really needs to stop. Please let me tell you what happened in my foods & dudes class last week. I went up to this guy who was wearing a cross. "Excuse me," I said to him. "Do you wear that because it means something to you, or just for decoration." He slouched back and told me that it meant something to him. I shook his hand and it was as if we'd known each other for twenty years. You see, that's how it should work.
But still the problem remains. If you go to UNH and you wear a cross, then please take it off if Jesus is not your lord. You're embarrassing those who follow him, and you bring shame to Jesus' name. Jesus' name means, "the Lord saves," in the Hebrew. Will you allow Jesus to live up to his name in your life? It's your move. Who do you say he is?
But if you say that you love Jesus, then do what he says. Jesus said, "if you love me, you will obey what I command... Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him" (John 14:15,21). "God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in him" (1 John 4:16).
There's a lot of talk about how Jesus is love. This is true, but Biblically, the definition of love is to follow Jesus' commands. He commands us to believe in him. He commands us to live a life worthy of him. He commands us to follow him and not to place all our desires on things of the world. He commands us to live a pure life, no sexual immorality. He commands us to protect our little children, born and unborn. He commands us to take care of our families, to take care of the poor, to love everyone, even our enemies. Can't do it? There is forgiveness, but only if you come asking for forgiveness in him name and on his terms (1 John 1:9).
But I've heard it said many times that all roads lead to God. And, yes this is true, all roads do lead to God, but as a friend of mine said once, most roads lead to God as judge, but only one leads to him as Father. It's the road he paved for us. It's the road he created through his Son. God wants to be our Father. Jesus took our punishment, he paid our debt because he knew we could not. But once again, it's your move: Who do you say he is?
You see, God does not work like Santa Clause. We all love Santa, but it's damaging to think God works like Santa does. If you're good, Santa gives you a good present. If you're bad, he gives you coal. See, we're trained to think God works that way. God is not Santa Clause. The truth is that there is only one way to God, and that is through Jesus, his son (1 Timothy 2:5). It's not about what we do, it's about what Jesus has already done.
I'm not making this up. This is not the gospel according to me. This is strictly what Jesus taught and I will stand on his word. I trust Jesus. I say he is the Son of the living God. Who do you say he is?
And there is a lot of talk about homosexuality and feminism and how all these things fit into his plans. That is not the issue. The issue is: who do you say he is? God is so willing to take you and make your life more full than you could ever have imagined. He wants to forgive you, but he can't forgive you if you don't come asking, and if you don't come asking on his terms. If you have the idea that you can define God, then you do not have the heart that is ready to receive forgiveness. Please soften your heart. Please receive what God wants to give you for free. He wants to forgive you. Who do you say he is?
Let's stop pretending. The kidding is over. The pretending has to stop. Don't you see that when you walk around campus and people come up to you and say, "hey, how's it going?" and you say, "fine," really it's a lie? Maybe you're being killed inside because one of your parents is an alcoholic. Maybe your best friend was assaulted this week. Maybe there was sexual abuse in your past. Let's be honest. I've told everybody about my past. You don't have to do that. You don't have to tell everyone. But, can you admit it to yourself? As you read this in your room, the dining halls, home, can you be honest with yourself and the God who knows what you are feeling?
Let's lay it on the line. I am not ashamed of what I have shared with you this semester. It has been a moving semester for me and I feel very close to God. I feel very close to God. This is the semester that I told the whole student body that I tried to take my own life. This is the semester that I laid it on the line and told about my father and his cocaine addiction. This is the semester that I was really honest. Many people knew me when I was taking photos for MUSO my freshman and sophomore years. Some knew me as a student senator. But the whole time that I was filling my life with "things to do" and "distractions from facing up to reality," I never stopped to admit that I was in pain. What about you? Are you in pain? Jesus made many promises. Will you at least hear him out? Who do you say he is?
I feel no pressure to stop writing my articles. I feel no harassment, nor any threatening opposition. But I have said a lot this semester, and I have glorified my Fath