Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Who do you say I am?

Identity can be a tricky thing.  Last week someone identified me to someone else as "Joy, you know, the one who has seizures..."  It's not the first time I have been identified that way, but for some reason it stuck with me more this time and it bothered me.  There was nothing untrue in what this person said. I do have seizures, but there is so much more to me than the seizures.  In any case, this spurred on a lot of thinking about identity (possibly at the expense of some of my school work).  It reminded me of a story in Matthew, where Jesus asks his disciples two questions.  First he asked them who people in general said he was, then he asked them who they said he was.  The story is below:
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ. 
Matthew 16:13-20
I wonder why Jesus asked his disciples those questions.  Since he was fully G-d as well as fully man, he had to have been all knowing, and if he was all knowing, then he would surely know what his identity was, and also who people said he was.  I think (my theology may quite possibly be awful and off base) that this passage shows Jesus' humanity. I think it mattered to him who people said he was. I think maybe (and here my theology gets sketchy) it mattered to him for who people said he was for the same reason it matters to us. Sometimes it's hard to sort out who we are, so we turn to other people to help us. Who people say we are does have to be held to some standard and sometimes taken with a grain of salt, or outright rejected. If someone said they thought I was an ax-murderer, I'd reject that pretty fast...just because someone says it's so, doesn't mean it really is so and just because someone says it is not so, doesn't really mean it is not so.  There are certain aspects of identity that cannot be changed, no matter what anyone says.  No matter what anyone says, nothing will change the fact that I am a beloved child of G-d.  We don't exist in a vaccuum, so therefore we must exist in the context of community, and therefore, who people say we are must matter, at least to some extent.
So, I'm curious.  Who do you say I am?  (hey, if Jesus can ask that question, so can I)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think your the nicest, most amazing person at Central and I'm totally blessed to have met you :) I'd say your Joy, the girl who shares her heart and sacrifices her time to help others :) Or Joy the girl who loves to have fun and eat with her ffriends on the floor picnik style :)