Who do you say that I am?
It’s the question that Jesus asks Peter and the disciples.
Who do you say that I am?
We’ve been talking about sharing our faith all month -
I grew up in a small town going to the local United Methodist church every Sunday. I went to Sunday school. I knew the church. And I was the FASTEST at Bible Drills.
But if you had asked me Who I would say Jesus was – I am not sure I would have had much of an answer.
A nice guy. God’s son. Someone who teaches us how to be a nice person.
I knew about Jesus.
But I didn’t KNOW Jesus.
My first year out of college, I found myself in Rocky Mount, NC – not far from Jason’s hometown down in NC. I was a first year high school biology teacher in an urban school, teaching remedial freshmen.
It was a hard year, but oddly enough a fairly successful one –I was desperately thankful for the mentor who guided me through that year. This same mentor invited me every month to her bible study. And every month, I politely declined. At the end of the year, I told her I would go – just to get her off my back.
The study was interesting – and I thought I might actually learn some things – ABOUT Jesus and ABOUT God. So I continued going.
My second year of teaching began that fall and I think I expected things to go smoothly since the first year had gone fairly well.
I think its important to note that while I had gone through quite a bit of heartache and struggle in my life, I hadn’t experience a lot of FAILURE.
Until I encountered Richard Murray.
Richard had just transferred to our school after being told he was never allowed to return to his previous school.
That should have been my first warning.
Richard’s life at home was nothing short of tragically terrible – and so Richard’s primary motive in life was to create CHAOS wherever he went.
Now, let’s remember that I am a 22 year old young teacher – extremely naïve and relatively untested in my ability to handle defiant, troubled kids.
I couldn’t have been more unprepared for Richard’s antics.
Day after day, he would instigate others in the class to talk back to me – to create a stir, to revolt against the work I had done – and – just three weeks into the semester, on my BIRTHDAY – he managed to bring in a full swath of water balloons into the classroom and had a full on water balloon fight in my classroom.
I think it’s fair to say that this was the low moment of my teaching career.
All the while I’m learning about this Jesus guy – a God who didn’t just stand to the side and watch what was going on in the world – but who got into the mess of the world – a God who put on flesh and came to be with us – to walk with us – and listen to us and teach us and to show us – both in his teaching and in his very life and death and resurrection – that God is in the business of bringing new life and hope out of the places of greatest darkness and struggle.
As I was coming to term with my own limitations, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that I needed Jesus in my heart and in my life if I was going to make it through the year.
I suppose I am thankful to Richard Murray now. Because I didn’t actually KNOW Jesus – until I met Richard.
I imagine that there are moments in your life where Jesus, where God has been present. Sometimes in small ways and perhaps sometimes in big ways.
Sometimes we like to call those God moments.
These stories that make us pause and see that God is indeed at work in the world.
So – if you feel led – and if you feel ready to share a God moment with your group – I invite you to do so at this time.