Have you ever heard the phrase, “you aren’t what you think you are, you’re what you think other people think you are.”?
In essence it means that we can see ourselves not for who we really are or even who others actually think we are, but our self awareness, our identity, perceived value and image can in fact be a delusion. Who we think other people think we are. It might not be what they are thinking at all, it may not even be the truth about us either.
Generally speaking, many of us can go through life weighing ourselves through our assumption of other people’s opinions about us. What a great shame it would be to reach the end of our days and having lived a limited or defeated life in some fashion simply because we believed a lie about ourselves without even knowing it. Having constructed our self identity, our self worth based on our assumptions about what others think about us.
Why would we think this way? Many do without even realising it. It’s because we have learnt a fallacy through society that has been shaped by fallen nature; that the highest authority and truth about who we really are comes from other people’s opinions about us. One poignant example of this can be found in an old saying in Hollywood that; “you’re only as good as your last movie”.
Who do we think Jesus is?
Taking a further step back to get as objective a view as possible on this phenomenon, as a Christian the number one question that comes to mind is: have we, in some way, done this very thing with Jesus Himself? Not that we can shape His own self image, but rather the reverse.
Let me explain; what if our image of Jesus, our understanding of who He is, is in fact who WE think that He is and not who He really is at all? If that were the case that indeed would be the greatest tragedy of all; that His very own children have misunderstood and misconstrued the full picture and reality of who He truly is.
How do we determine for certain whether we do believe the truth about who God really is? Did you know that when Moses asked to see the glory of God, the Lord said to him;
“So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”” (Exodus chapter 33 verse 22 and 23)
“And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,.”” (Exodus chapter 34 verse 6)
This passage in Genesis clearly states that Moses himself only caught a glimpse of God’s back, not His face and most certainly not all of who God was and is.
But when Jesus, God incarnate entered the scene, the apostle John wrote;
“For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” (John chapter 1 verses 17-18)
Only Jesus shows us who God is
Here there is a clear distinction; that the law came through Moses, BUT grace and TRUTH came through Jesus Christ. John goes on to emphasise with no coincidence that “no one has seen God at any time” referring to Moses’ sneak peak of Him on Mount Sinai, but only Jesus, who is in the bosom of the Father; intimately connected to the Father’s heart, can express and explain who God really is.
There are many similar passages, such as Hebrews chapter one, verse three about Jesus being the exact image of God and Jesus’ own words to Philip in John chapter fourteen, verse nine; “he who has seen Me has seen the Father, so how can you say, ‘show us the Father’?”.
The bottom line is that Jesus Himself, His words, actions and life lived as recounted in the four gospels are the full, complete and perfect representation of who God really is. The cat is out of the bag, there’s no other picture perfect revelation of the personhood, the nature and the will of God than Jesus Christ and the example He gave to His disciples (that includes us) that is contained in the four gospels.
The truth is that what we believe about Him is what we will re-present to the world around us. Are we re-presenting our version of Jesus or Jesus as He is clearly seen in the gospels? A politically correct Jesus? A sin tolerant Jesus that’s likeable and palatable by the world’s standards?
Let us always remember that God made man in His image. God determines what love is, not us. To fashion God in our own image, according to man’s version of love, is to fashion an idol made by human hands in our own image.
Let us ask ourselves this question, the very same question that Jesus asked Peter; “who do you say that I am?”.
Josh Wood is an ordained minister and has been teaching and preaching around the world for the last ten years. He lives on the Gold Coast, Australia with his beautiful wife and their two beloved sons. He is also an avid fiction writer working on the first draft of a Christian fantasy novel, having also previously worked in the film and TV industries. You can check out his website woodfamilyministries.com for information about his ministry.