Sunday: December 13, 2020
John 1:19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”
If one is asked ‘are you a Christian’ and they respond ‘I am not an unbeliever’, what does that make you see them as? It will be difficult to zone in on what exactly they identify with and this is exactly the situation the messengers of the Jews encountered when they met John. John’s responses appeared to support the assertion that “If you know who you are not, that makes up for who you are”.
This is the thought that played around in my head after reading the Gospel text. As much as I tried to make sense of the use of a negative connotation to establish identity, things just did not seem to add up. Because who you are not, is no clear indicator of who you are and neither does what you don’t stand for, show others what you stand for.
If you read this too quickly, then sweetheart, you may have go back a few lines to do so bit more slowly to catch the picture. Here is the issue: when John was asked by the Jews about his identity, on three occasions he answered in the negative: ‘I am not…’, and he was speaking the truth. Interestingly, these messengers kept pressing him along the lines of ‘we are certainly not going back to our bosses with information on who you are not, we want to know who you are’!
It is to this fourth press that John answered ‘I am the voice of one crying in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord’. It was evident that this was not a matter of an identity crisis for John because indeed he knew his own identity’. It seemed he was rather interested in establishing what the Jews had really come to find out. Their determination showed.
Beloved, it is very easy to divert attention by dancing round with our responses when our beliefs and identity are questioned. But here is a truth worth pondering on: ‘if you truly stand for something, there should be the courage to identify with it’. Then again bearing in mind that ‘who you are not, is not a clear indicator of who you are”.