Posted by: pastormikemcdowell | September 23, 2014

September 23, 2014 “The Seminal Question”

“Who do you say that I am?”  (Luke 9:20)

Good Morning Dear Friends!

When I was a student at Grove City College in the late ’60’s (that’s the 1960’s…not the 1860’s, just for clarification), I had a roommate who, like me, was a fan of the comic strip “Peanuts”. He hung a poster on the wall of our dorm room featuring a picture of Linus, blanket in hand, thumb in his mouth. The caption of the poster read, “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere.” While on the surface, this may seem like an appealing, broad-minded, reasonable way of thinking, it flies in the face of orthodox Christianity, and from what I know of Linus from other cartoon strips, it is not a philosophy or belief to which he would adhere. Christianity, as a world religion, has often been lumped in with other belief systems as being “just another world religion.” Sincerity in belief and religious tolerance may seem admirable, but one may believe in something which is totally abhorrent at its very core. We see that being clearly played out today by radical Islamic extremists and the atrocities being meted out against others…Christians in particular.

But there are other more benign belief systems such as Buddhism and Hinduism that are not militant. How is Christianity any different from these, and isn’t the “wisdom” of Linus’ words more applicable when it comes to these belief systems? Is it not just as arrogant for Christians to claim that Christ is the only way to salvation as it is for radicals of other faiths to make such claims? Consider this observation made by theologian and Christian apologist Josh McDowell:

“Christianity is not at all like Buddhism or Islam or Confucianism. The founders of those religions said (in effect), ‘Here is what I teach. Believe my teachings. Follow my philosophy.’ Jesus said, ‘Follow me'(Matthew 9:9).Leaders of the world’s religions said, ‘What do you think about what I teach?’ Jesus said, ‘Who do you say I am?'(Luke 9:20)”

Christianity is not a teaching or a philosophy or even a way of life. Christianity and all it propounds is built on the person of Jesus Christ. His directives are not ambiguous. His followers are just that...followers. Christians are believers in Jesus Christ, not merely his teachings. What you believe regarding the person of Jesus Christ is of greater importance than leading what some may call “a good Christian lifestyle.” Doing good is a good thing. Loving others is desirable. Generosity is to be admired and practiced. Self-sacrifice and service to others is superior to selfishness. But none of these is tantamount to a true definition of Christianity. To be sure, they are characteristics that should mark the life of a Christian, but these acts alone do not make one a Christian. Adherents to other belief systems…even athiests…may live what many consider to be exemplary lives in their actions. So what’s the difference, then, in what you believe? Christ himself asks the seminal question, ‘Who do you say I am?’  The answer that one gives to this direct question is the determining factor in defining a Christian. Peter, when asked the question, got it right. He said “The Christ of God.”  What we believe concerning Jesus and who He is makes all the difference in the world. He is the Christ of God… He is the Great ‘I AM’…He is the Resurrection and the Life. Do you believe this? ‘Who do you say I am?’ Let’s pray!

King of Kings and Lord of Lords; There is none other like You. There is no other name by which we shall be saved. You alone are Lord. You alone are worthy. You alone are God. I believe in no other. My allegiance I will give to no other, for You are my Lord and my God in whom I live and move and have my being. Praise be to Your Holy Name! Amen!


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