Questionable characteristics, what defines who you really are?

Rick Wipf

Rick WipfColumnist

If someone asked you to define yourself, what would you say? Would you define yourself by what you do? As in “I’m a football player” or “I’m a engineering major”. Or by what you enjoy? “I love Justin Bieber” (and have developed Bieber fever – a serious medical condition caused by too much exposure to his songs and videos).

Or maybe by some characteristic you have? “I have a big nose” or “I’m thoughtful”.

What word, or phrase or description would give people the best definition of who you are? And would that description be the same in a month, or in a year, or in 10 years?

Two thousand years ago, a religious figure appeared on the scene and lots of people wanted to define who He was. Some thought He was one of the prophets. Some thought He was Elijah back from the dead. Some thought He was Moses.

Others thought He was a king who would liberate them from the Romans. Some thought He was a blasphemer. He was none of those.

But, He knew who He was and one day in a conversation with the religious leaders, He finally told them. “Before Abraham was born, I am.”

They completely understood who He was claiming to be. He was claiming to be the God of the Old Testament. The God they worshipped. The God who led them out of Egypt.

But they didn’t like that definition. They didn’t like it because it didn’t fit their understanding of who God was. He didn’t fit their mold. So they tried to kill Him.

Today, people still try to define Jesus. We patronize Him by saying that He was just a great teacher, or a great prophet or a moral leader. We put Him on the same level as other religious leaders, but don’t acknowledge that He’s God.

But, seriously, would a great teacher, or prophet or moral leader claim to be God if He really wasn’t? That would make him a lunatic or a liar, but not a great teacher, or prophet or moral leader. He either is God, or He’s not. There’s no in between.

So, maybe we should let Jesus define Himself. He claimed to be God. He claimed to be the way, the truth and the life, the only way to the Father, the Alpha and the Omega. And what if He is all those things? What would that mean to you?

Well, it would mean that it’s time to take Him seriously, to read His teachings in the Bible, to think about the implications of His claims. What if He really is the only way to the Father (His words, not mine)? The obvious implication of that statement is that there isn’t any other way.

And if you care at all about where you will spend eternity (and we will all spend it somewhere), then you can’t ignore His words. You can choose to accept or reject them. But, you can’t ignore them. That’s not an option. Because He’s either crazy, or He’s right. And your life, literally, depends on which option you choose to accept.

Join us for our “I Am …” series at Oasis on Sundays @ 8 p.m. at Brookings Wesleyan Church as we explore who Jesus claimed to be.

Pastor Rick Wipf can be contacted at [email protected].