Monday, March 8, 2010

Let Jesus Define You

In John 1, a man named Simon is introduced by his brother to Jesus. Jesus looks at Simon and says, "so you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas."

Can you imagine meeting someone for the first time and they rename you? "Nice to meet you Joel, but from now on, you're called Santiago."

In this act, Jesus isn't only renaming Simon, he is speaking a new identity into his life. Jesus is essentially saying, "I know who you think you are. Yet I also know who you truly are. Follow me."

Simon is a loud, uneducated fisherman with a penchant for putting his foot in his mouth. Jesus looks at Simon and sees Peter, a man who will lead a Gospel-movement that will radically reshape all of human history. Yet at the end of the story, after Jesus has risen from the dead and commissioned the disciples through sending the Holy Spirit, we find Peter doing something a bit strange with his disciple pals:
Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "we will go with you." They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Jesus has been raised from the dead, conquering sin and death and offering eternal life to the world! It's the greatest moment in history, and what does Peter do? He goes fishing. Why?

Because in this moment, he is living as Simon, not as Peter.

Peter is having an identity crisis. He is unsure about who he truly is, especially in light of denying his Savior and closest friend in a pivotal moment. Perhaps he's not really cut out for this whole disciple thing; perhaps he's still just an uneducated fisherman. He sees himself as Simon.

Moments later, Jesus appears to the disciples. They share breakfast and Jesus asks Peter three times if he truly loves Him. By the third question, both Peter and the reader understand what Jesus is doing: he is offering grace and redemption from the three denials Peter uttered only days before.

Jesus offers the same grace and redemption to us. We can allow our fear, our insecurities, our hopes, our dreams, our successes, our failures, our strengths, our weaknesses, or our relationships to define us. "I am my failed marriage." "I am a good father." "I am scared of people getting close to me." "I am financially secure." "I am secretly an addict." "I am lonely." Jesus looks at us and says, "I know who you think you are." But these are not who we are as followers of Jesus. Instead, Jesus offers that he would define us. After all, he created us and saved us from sin and death. When we ask the question, "who am I?" it is Jesus who desires to answer for us. And his answer is one of pure love and compassion--we are loved children of God, saints and members of his body, created in his image and called to be a part of God's kingdom.

If you're a follower of Christ your sin, your insecurities, your fear, your personal success, your social or marital or financial status--none of these define you. Jesus defines you. Let him.

1 comment:

  1. Such an incredible insight. Thanks for sharing Joel.