Sermon: August 24, 2008

24 08 2008

 

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

 

                                                            Matthew 16:13–20

 

 

 

Are you hooked on pleasing others at your own expense? Are you the perennial nice person who wears a public “happy face” to conceal your own displeasure with others? Do you give yourself to others, sometimes to a fault? Do you avoid confrontations and conflict at all costs? Do you need everyone to like you? If so, you probably fit the profile of the typical “people pleaser.” You might wonder, “Why should I worry; others seem happy with my style?”

 

That was the opening paragraph of an article that I was reading the other day.  The article was talking about “People Pleasers.”  And the reason that that article caught my attention is because I think that’s what I am.  I am a people pleaser.  I want people to like me.  I don’t like people being angry with me.  I don’t like confrontation.  I will at times find myself saying and doing things that I don’t want to say or do –  simply to avoid confrontation – simply to avoid making people mad at me.

 

But why am I telling you this?  Is it part of my ten step program for recovery from being a people pleaser?  Step One: Tell all your friends that you are a people pleaser.  No!  But maybe a more important question – What does this have to do with the Gospel of Matthew and Peter’s Confession of Faith – You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

 

Why was Peter the only one who came up with this answer?  Out of all of the disciples, why was Peter the only one who said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God?”  Was he the only one who thought that?  Was he the only one who believed that?  No, I don’t believe that.  I think all of the other disciples thought that.  I think they even believed that in their hearts.  Then why did take Peter to say it?  Why wasn’t that the first answer that they came up with?  I think that they didn’t say it, because they were afraid of what other people might think if they heard what they said.  I think it was because they didn’t want to look silly or foolish to others.  I think that they were afraid that if word got back to the Pharisees or the Leaders of the Temple that they might have thought they were idiots or maybe even gotten angry with them.  I think that they were concerned about giving the politically correct answer – the answer that would make every body happy.

 

“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

 

           

 And the reason that I am saying all of this is because in many ways I think that you and I can fall into that same trap.  We get too concerned about what others will think of us.  If we give a witness to our faith.  If we let people know in our words and in our deeds that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God.  People might think less of us.  So often times when we are at work.  When we are with our friends.  When we are sitting around the house with our family members.  We remain silent when we ought to do what Peter did.  Boldly testify to our faith.  Boldly declare with our words and our actions that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.  And we ought to worry less about what others might think.  I know that I do that far too often.  I will be out in the community.  Somebody will say or do something that makes me feel really uncomfortable.  Sometimes that will even happen at church meetings.  And I stay quiet.  I don’t want to get people angry.  I don’t want people to be mad at me.  And the story of Peter is a reminder to us that we ought not to be afraid.  We ought to be afraid to speak out.

          

  And the reason for that?  Well, we have some wonderful news.  We know that Jesus is the Christ.  He is the Son of the Living God.  He is the one who was chosen by God before time began to save all of mankind from their sins.  He was the one who was going to come into this world and take on the sins of all.  He was the one who was going to lay down His life on a cross so that I could pick up my life.  He was the one who give me my life back.  He was the one who would make it possible for me to walk through the Gates of Paradise and be rejoined with my Father – the one who created me and the heavens and the earth.

        

    Paul was one of those kinds of people.  He never shut up.  He never stopped talking about His Jesus.  For this he was rejected and put down.  He was beaten and thrown in jail.  He was booed and he was hissed.  They threatened him with death and finally did kill him.  But it never stopped him.  It never stopped him from speaking out and when asked why, his answer was:

 

For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ for it is the power of God for salvation.

         

   Don’t hold back.  Boldly give witness to your Jesus.  Let the whole world know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.  “He has made a difference in my life.  He can make a difference in your life.”  Shout it from the mountain tops.  Never mind about being a people pleaser.  Be a God pleaser.  Be a Jesus pleaser.  And if you do, others will come and join you, and a choir of voices will be heard throughout this land:  You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

            Don’t be afraid to share your Jesus.  Even the Gates of Hell cannot stand against you.

 

Amen!

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