As part of yesterdays sermon, I set our folks a challenge for the week: to find out from one of their friends/neighbours/work colleagues etc. what they thought about Jesus.
Jesus' question to the disciples in Matthew 16 (which lots of Anglicans will have preached on/listened to yesterday), 'who do people say that I am?' has a subtext. It's 'have you been listening?' The disciples won't be able to answer the question, unless they've been listening to other people.
Jesus then wants to know if they've made up their own minds ('who do you say that I am?') rather than just going for whichever opinion is top in the polls. But my hunch is that any disciple of Jesus needs to have an answer to both questions. We need to listen to what other people are saying, and we need to make up our own minds.
If we only have an answer to the first question, we risk living as chameleons to the latest cultural shift. If we only have an answer to the second, we risk creating our own bubble with Jesus, floating free from real engagement with others, a bubble Jesus has no interest in. All disciples are sent into the world just like Jesus was, not to shout at it (which is a good way to avoid the hard work of listening), but to serve it.
And my interest at the moment is the on-the-ground evidence. It's easy to guess at what people might think about Jesus. But what do the people we speak to every day really think about him, if anything at all?
answers on a comments form please.....