“Who do the people say that I am?” For some people, Jesus is no more than a historical figure at best. Others say they believe he is the Son of God, but they do not accept of follow all of his teachings. The Christian is set apart not simply because of his beliefs, but moreover because he lives his commitment to Christian faith and virtue and encourages others to do so for the sake of living a happier life.
“Who do you say that I am?” We say who Christ is with our actions more than with our words. As the Apostle John teaches, when we sin, we deny him. When we sincerely try to live without sin and do good to others, we proclaim him with the witness of our lives. In the little things (at work, at home, in traffic) is where we show what the Gospel means to us in practical affairs.
Being a Christian has its consequences. After Peter professes his faith in Christ, Jesus warns him and the other Apostles of the suffering that is to come, he challenges their faith with the promise of the resurrection, and he advises them of the consequences to following him. A Christian must deny himself and take up his cross daily in order to follow Christ.
“Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” Jesus presents his would be followers with more than just a paradox. It is a formula of life, a mission statement for the Christian. As a mission statement, it could be phrased: “Because I believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, I wholeheartedly trust him and always place his criteria above my own, even when it hurts.” The benefits are a happier life – one that may not exempt trials, difficulty, and suffering – and the promise of eternal salvation. More importantly, when we accept Jesus for who he is, and take up our cross daily, we belong to Christ. Then, nothing can possibly separate us from the love of God.