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#91 Who Do You Say That I Am? (featuring Christian Gonzalez)

Summary:

Christ asked His disciples something personal: "Who do you say that I am?"  It's an invitation to do more than answer a question: He's asking us to share our relationship with Him.  So who do you say that Christ is?  And how is He active in your life?  Share your answer and this video!  

Questions:

1) How does studying theology help us know God more?

2) How does being in communion with others help us know God more?

3) How do we see God in other people?

Links:

Bible Gateway, Psalm 136

Mystagogy, Questions to Ponder from the Bible

Bible Gateway, Matthew 16

Bible Gateway, Exodus 13

Script:

Hey everybody, this is Steve and God is active in our lives. One of the cool things about making "Be the Bee" is discovering how many people are really interested in theology and want something a little bit deeper than the easy soundbites we normally use to talk about Orthodox Christianity. There's a really important question that's at the very heart of the Church, it's in the background of every episode of "Be the Bee", we even have an episode explicitly dedicated to answering it. Who is Jesus Christ? The question is critical, probably the most critical because without a proper understanding of Who Christ is, we'll never be able to understand creation, or Salvation, or ourselves.

It's good to ask this question and great to answer it, but we need to be careful that we're not turning theology into just another interesting topic, just another subject that we read about, or talk about, or even simply think about. It's why I'm grateful to my friend Christian for the great work he's doing on his weekly series, "The Trench", which offers people practical ways to apply theology in their lives and relationships. Theology isn't simply something we study, it's an encounter, it's something we live in our union with God and in our relationship with our neighbors. And besides this question of Who Christ is, there's a related question, one we don't ask enough of ourselves or each other.

Christian reminded me of this question and that the first person to ask it was Christ Himself. In the Gospel according to Matthew in Chapter 16, Christ asks the disciples "Who do the people say that I Am?" And they answer "Some say You're John the Baptist, others, Elijah and others, one of the other prophets". And then Christ asks them that second question, the one that Steve mentioned that we don't ask ourselves or each other often enough, "Who do you say that I Am?" And the way Christ asks the question is really important.

He isn't satisfied by simply knowing the answer to the first question, "Who do the people say that I Am?". Nor does He just ask "Who Am I?". But He want to know what the disciples think, "Who do you say that I Am?". He's asking them for a deeply personal confession. He wants them and us to open our hearts and reveal what's inside, to share our faith and our relationship with Him. By asking the question in this way, Christ reminds us of the deeply personal nature of faith, that faith isn't simply about ideas or beliefs, it's about a relationship. There's a really important quote that helps explain this connection. "If you're a theologian, you will pray truly. And if you pray truly, you are a theologian".

This helps to show the really close connection between theology and prayer. Prayer is about so much more than just words, it's about connection, it's about closeness, it's about communion. There's a difference between knowing about God, knowing ideas that frankly, may or may not have anything to do with Him, and knowing God Himself, knowing Who God really is. Just like how I can know a bunch of things about Steve.

I know that He's approximately 5'8, has a grizzly beard and he's ruggedly handsome, but I don't actually know him until I experience him, until I spend time hanging out with him. So to our knowledge of Who God really is comes from His activity in our lives because He doesn't simply observe us from far away, but He participates directly in our lives. The Scripture remembers God's activity in specific and concrete ways. For instance, Psalm 135, which many Parishes chant during Holy Communion, thanks the Lord again and again while remembering specific things for which we're grateful.

We give thanks because God made the Heavens and the Earth, because He delivered His people from captivity in Egypt and parted the Red Sea before them, because He delivered them from their enemies again and again and kept them safe. The people of Israel remember this deliverance from Egypt every year during Passover and the Scriptures have very specific instructions to keep this memory alive. "And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, 'This is done because of what the Lord did for me when I came up from Egypt. It shall be a sign to you on your hand as a memorial between your eyes, that the Lord's law may be in your mouth for with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of Egypt. You shall therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year."

The Scripture is also full of ways that God was active in the lives of particular people, the way He blessed Abraham and Sarah with a son, the way He helped the prophet Elijah defeat the priests of Baal, the way He helped David defeat Goliath and eventually become king. This is why since the time of the Old Testament, we refer to God as the God of Israel, who delivered His people from Egypt, led them through the wilderness and brought them into the Promise Land. Yet as much as He is the God of Israel, He's also the God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob and of Steve for that matter. Christian: "And Christian!!!"

God is active in our lives and it's important that we talk about it, that we ground our belief in our real and lived experience. I really came to know God after my dad passed away, when, for the first time in years, I began praying, each and every day for his Salvation until I got this unmistakable sense that Someone heard me, that he was okay, that prayer wasn't simply a monologue, that I wasn't talking to myself, but that there was someone on the other side. And I continue to know God in doing this, in walking into a room full of people and talking to them about Christ, in the moments when I don't know what I'm going to say, yet God somehow fills my heart with His words.

I came to know Christ in the midst of some deep personal loss and pain during my junior year of high school. Christ came to me through the person of my English teacher, who simply listened to me, shared my suffering, accepted and loved me. And through him, I began to see that it was actually Christ Who listened to me, Who suffered with me, Who accepted me and loved me. And this gave me the hope there might be some change, that there might be Resurrection on the other side of my personal Cross.

So, Who do you say that God is? How has He been more than an idea? How has He been a Real Person, active in your life? Leave us a comment, let us know. Better yet, when you share this video, add your own testimony to remind yourself of the ways that God has been active in your life and to give that hope to people who may need to hear it now. People who may need to hear that God isn't simply out there somewhere, but that He's really here, active in our lives. Because God isn't simply the God of Israel, He's the God of Abraham, and of Isaac and of Jacob. He's the God of Steve and Christian and He's your God too. So let's Be the Bee and share how God is active in our lives. Be the Bee and Live Orthodoxy. Remember to like and subscribe and share. I'll see you all next week. Thanks to our supporters on Patreon who helped make this episode possible. To support the creation of more Orthodox Christian content, please visit Patreon.com/y2am.

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