Our world runs on “who is who.” Put in another way, identity thrives so much in the human society, and that discloses why individuals, corporate bodies, organizations, governments, and nations expend resources and time to build, maintain and rebrand their identities to gain appraisal from people. Only a few of us can deny the fact that we leverage on “good name” and we make efforts to have people say good things about us.
In our day and age employers carry out background checks and ask employees to get recommendations as preconditions for employment. Most intending couples ask questions about each other’s past before they agree to tie the nuptial knots. Most people now look at customer’s reviews on products and services before they let go their hard-earned money. All these checks and balances ball down to the search for identity, “who is who?” put in another way, “who people say you are.”
A little bit of psychology would help our reflection today as we consider the “Johari window” which is a personality awareness model by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in the 1950s. The “Johari window” discloses four types of selves or identities we have.
The first shows things about us that other people and we know (open space). The second tells us about the things about us we do not know, but others know (blind spot). The third reveals things about us that we are aware, but others do not know (hidden space). The last window talks about things about us that are unknown to both ourselves and others (unknown space).
Some of us may be wondering why we should go through this analysis to understand the message today, but the reason will become clearer in a short time.
In the Gospel Reading (Matt. 16:13-20), our Lord Jesus Christ attempts a survey with his disciples on his identity with two interrelated questions: “who do people say I am?” and “Who do you say I am?”. Looking at the Johari window, our Lord seems to want to know his blind spot; that is information about him which others know and he “does not know.”
The popular opinion about our Lord Jesus Christ describes him as John the Baptist (the new testament prophet who was killed by Herod), Elijah (the greatest of the Old Testament prophets) or any of the prophets. The blind area identity shows half-truth about our Lord; yes, he is a prophet, but that is not the whole story.
The next question goes directly to the disciples, “you who do you say I am?” Peter’s answer goes this way: “You are Christ, the Son of the living God.” Looking again at the Johari window, where can we place Peter’s answer?
The mistake the inventors of the Johari window is to exclude God in the fourth window. God knows everything that is why we call Him omniscient (Isaiah 46:10; Psalm 139:1-4). To answer the question Peter speaks about a truth that no human could give except by divine revelation. Hence our Lord says to him: “Flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but my heavenly father.” The statement of our Lord confirms the fact that God Himself tells whom the Son is using Peter. In order words, whom God says we are is who we are!
Today many people worry and fret over what people say or would say about them. The truth is that we cannot stop people from tagging us and talking about us especially in the negative. Most People will only remember the things you did not do well and name you after such things. I have a message for you today:
- When people call you a failure, God says you shall succeed in all your ways (Prov. 16:3).
- When people say, you are worthless; God says, you are the apple of His eye, and he who touches you touches the apple of His eye (Zecharia 2:8).
- When people say, you are a sinner God says I will blot your transgressions for my sake and your sins I will remember no more (Isaiah 43:25).
- When people call you rejected and abandoned God says to you even if your father and mother abandon you, I will take care of you (Psalm 27:10).
- When people call you poor and empty, God says that He will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19).
- When people say you are darkness and there is no hope for you. God says he will deliver you from the kingdom of darkness and transfer you into the marvelous light of His Son (Col.1:13).
- When people call you sick and wounded God says that he will restore you to health and heal your wounds (Jeremiah 30:17).
It does not matter who people say you are, what matter is God’s affirmations about you. However, God will not just affirm you without your faith and good works (James 2:22) shown in who God is for you. God knows beyond every window in your life. Often, we waste our time and resources trying to make people feel good and confident about us while we worth nothing in God’s estimation.
The message today is a direct call on us for a deeper reassessment of who we are not the impression we give to people or what they feel about us but through a life that glorifies God. Remember life is not all about people’s opinion about you but who God says you are and the position you give God in your life!
Have a great Sunday and a wonderful week ahead.