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 Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Matthew 16:13-16 NIV
Several years ago on a Sunday morning of one of the busiest of commercial weeks of December, a seasoned pastor opened his sermon with a pointed question. As it turned out, that question left many in the congregation with far more to ponder than the final flurry of Christmas to-do lists and meal preparations.
More to the point, the question left me with a sizable helping of food for thought, so I’d like to pose his opening statement – and my thoughts about it – to you in our post for this third week of Advent 2017.
“When it comes to Jesus Christ – His character, His life, His mission on earth,” he asked, “what is your credo?”
So this is what I’m asking you, the reader, as well as myself, in other words: if you received a call three seconds from not and someone asked you what you believe about this Person named Jesus and His role in your life, how would you respond to him or her?
Jesus’ mother, Mary, might have responded that her infant was the Son of God. Had the question been posed to the Wise Men who followed the star to visit Him, they likely would have focused on His role as King of the Jews. This is certainly how they identified Him in their inquiry to Herod (Matthew 2:2). After the visit from angels upon His birth, the shepherds tending sheep might have answered that He is the Savior (Luke 2:10-11). His disciple, Simon Peter, in fact referred to Him as “the Messiah” in today’s passage of Scripture.
The truth is that anyone who has encountered Jesus – and certainly every follower of Jesus – should be able to readily state his or her credo in regards to Christ when given the opportunity to do so. The way in which we identify or think of Him, after all, shapes our individual lives and the way in which we live them.
It makes sense, then, that although the term credo is often translated today as “I believe…,” there is more to the process than simply reciting a statement on command. Think of it this way: the literal translation of credo is “I give my heart…” Did you catch the rich implication of that phrase? A credo is very much a heart language as opposed to a head language; it’s a sincere expression of commitment as opposed to a rehearsed or routine list of statements to which a person gives his or her intellectual assent via recitation. Mary, the magi and those lowly shepherds would not have been just murmuring pretty words when asked what they believed regarding the infant Jesus.
And if these people responded from the deepest portion of their spirits concerning the matter, what excuse do we have to murmur memorized phrases from our heads while wondering to ourselves whether to begin thawing the Christmas turkey on Saturday or Sunday?
As Christ-followers living 2,000 years later and having the completed canon of Scripture as a tool for personal and inductive use, it is important that we begin to fashion our own personal credo to which we not only do lip-service but to which we actively give our hearts as we await His return. Allan Boesak crafted the following poem in the first half of the 20thCentury and gave his heart to every beautiful phrase. It served as a wonderful example when I began sincerely considering my credo, and I would like to pass it on to you. For your convenience, I have added italicized references to Scripture.
It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed
to destruction and loss—
This is true: For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life [John 3:16];
It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination,
hunger and poverty, death and destruction—
This is true: I have come that they may have life,
and have it abundantly [John 10:10].
It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word,
and that war and destruction rule forever—
This is true: Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulders, His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, mighty God, the Everlasting, the Prince of Peace [Isaiah 9:6].
It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil
who seek to rule the world—
This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth, and lo I am with you,
even until the end of the world [Matthew 28:18-20].
It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted,
who are the prophets of the Church before we can be peacemakers—
This is true: I will pour out my spirit on all flesh and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions and your old men shall have dreams [Acts 2:17].
It is not true that our hopes for liberation of humankind, of justice, of human dignity,
of peace are not meant for this earth and for this history—
This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that the true worshipers shall worship God
in spirit and in truth [John 4:23].
So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope.
Let us see visions of love and peace and justice.
Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage:
Jesus Christ—the life of the world.
– Copyright 2019, Carole Anne Hallyburton. All Rights Reserved.