Fire the people in the boardroom
Published 9:21 pm Friday, August 12, 2016
By Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr.
If you ever have a chance to tour Israel, it is likely that you will be taken to lovely Caesarea Philippi.
Leaving the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus spent most of his time, you will find yourself going from a place that is 700 feet below sea level, to Caesarea Philippi, which is high up on the slopes of Mount Hermon. From here you can look down and get a sweeping vision of the Jordan Valley below.
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Jesus once left Galilee, and took his disciples on a 25-mile uphill walk to Caesarea Philippi, because he wanted them to get a vision of who he truly was and is.
Most first-century rabbis did not ask questions, but merely answered the questions of their students. But Jesus often asked people questions. They were brilliant, open-ended questions that were designed to draw people out.
In this case, Jesus began with a very non-threatening sort of question. He asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” This was easy. We have no problem reporting on the beliefs of others.
But then Jesus asked them something very personal: “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15)
This is the question that each one of us must answer. It is life’s ultimate question, because the way we answer it will echo in eternity. Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
It is fascinating that Peter made reference to the “living” God, because in Caesarea Philippi, they were surrounded by dead gods, false gods. This city was named after Caesar, who himself was worshipped as a god, but Caesarea Philippi was most famous for the Sanctuary of Pan.
Pan, half-man and half-goat, was the god of the flocks, and a temple in his honor had been built into the side of a mountain. In other words, Peter made his confession in a place where he was surrounded by idols.
We too live in a place where we are surrounded by idols — idols of power, money, materialism, sex, greed and comfort. Will we take a stand and bear witness for Jesus Christ in the middle of such a world gone wrong?
Ray Ortland suggests that each of our hearts is like a boardroom.
Imagine a boardroom with a big table, leather chairs, and bottles of water on the table. Around the table of your heart sits a committee. There sit your private self, your work self, your church self, your family self, your sexual self, your social self, and others. The committee members argue with one another. They are agitated and debating with one another. They can never come to a unified decision on anything.
Suppose you try to add Jesus to the committee, give him a vote, a seat at the table? That will only make things more complicated and confusing.
Here is a better choice, and the only one that leads to salvation: Fire the committee and let Jesus take over. Say, “Lord, you are in charge. You run things. I’ve made a mess of them.”
Jesus refuses to be added to our idols. He refuses to be one more thing in our crowded lives. Subtract your idols and let the Great Shepherd lead you.
Dr. Thurman R. Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.