Now it happened that he was praying alone, and his disciples came to him and he put this question to them, ‘Who do the crowds say I am?’
‘But you,’ he said to them, ‘who do you say I am?’ Luke 9:18,20
This is the question I rode up Sentential Peak with this morning. On my Happy Birthday Bicycle. And because it is a pretty sweet bike, I can now pass people. Going uphill. And there are a lot of cyclists out early on Sunday morning. And the other people are out there as well, the man staggering under the bridge, swinging his almost empty bottle. And the guy with the shopping cart sifting through the trash can. And the very tired looking woman sitting on the bus bench. Not that there will be a bus because the teamsters are on strike, but because it is the last bit of shade as we all squint into the rising sun. It is going to be yet another hot day in Tucson.
And of late, this has been my praying-alone question, Who is this Jesus the Christ of God? And the second is like the first, Who does the way I live my life say that He is, since I am indeed a self-proclaimed Christ-follower?
(Side note: It is so very satisfying to squish a buzzing mosquito.)
And I am reading a book that some wise friend gave me, I think for this same birthday. But I forgot whom. I thought it was Cameron, but it isn’t. So thank you, whoever you are.
And the book is a step further than my beloved Practicing the Presence of God. Because the second is like the first, Practicing the Presence of People by Mike Mason. And this is how I love the LORD my God with all of my heart, soul, mind and body, by loving my neighbor as myself.
And like Peter, I falter. A lot. And I try to rephrase the question. Or define my terms like a certain lawyer. But “likewise” is pretty clear.
By worshiping an incarnate God, we learn to humble ourselves before one another. He practices the presence of people by becoming one Himself. So too each one of us must find a way to join the human race, casting off our separateness and throwing in our lot with others. Am I paying the “continual debt of love” (Romans 13:8)? Or do I treat God’s people the civilized equivalent of the caretakers of the vineyard’s killing and beating of God’s representatives: ignoring them, isolating myself, sitting in silent judgment, rationalizing my lovelessness?
“Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, said Jesus, you did not do for me.”
Again and again and again. This is the Law and the Prophets summed up in one question.
Do you love me?
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
And the first chapter closes with this question: Do you love God? Look at the person next to you, and you will know.