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What's that filter for?

I am going to issue a challenge this morning - just a little one to ask each of us to consider something we may not have really considered before. How would others describe you? Who would they say you are? Would they describe you by your title, such as a great pastor, a good teacher, a talented musician? Would they describe you as the one who is aloof, too sensitive, or kind of timid? Would they say you were the one always bragging about your greatest accomplishments? There are lots of ways to describe someone, aren't there? Yet, the toughest thing to ask someone is to be genuine about who they really think we are! It might not be as comfortable as we'd like to think!

When Jesus arrived in the villages of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some think he is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” He pressed them, “And how about you? Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:13-15 MSG)

How others see you is important. Who they see you as in "reality" is very revealing - maybe a little too revealing! Quite some time ago, I realized I was putting up a good front in life - always showing others what I was comfortable allowing them to see about me. I never wanted them to know the 'real me', maybe because I wasn't very proud of some of the things I struggled with, such as my temper, my fears, or my insecurities. Many times we want the closeness of a 'real relationship', but we don't know how to get to the point of actually allowing others to see us. Maybe we really need to take a lesson from Jesus here - people will see us through various filters - because they somehow apply those filters to help there own true selves from being seen by others!

Jesus ask who others say he is and he receives a variety of answers, doesn't he? Some see him as the one prophesied about so long ago - the one who would 'precede' the coming deliverer of their nation. Others see him as a great prophet, while others see him as a religious zealot kind of bent on dividing a nation. It is amazing that all these people could see the exact same life lived out in front of them and then come to such different conclusions about who he is. They witnessed his miracles and some said he was a prophet, while others said he was of the devil. They saw his humble beginnings, born the son of a carpenter, and viewed him as unable to truly understand or teach scripture, yet he was 'spot on' each time he shared any of the Old Testament truths with them.

Others see us through filters - the filters that help them, not necessarily us. Filters are meant to block something out. We use a filter in our coffee pots because none of us likes to chew our coffee! We use filters in our air and heating units so dust is captured and not recirculated through the air. We use a filter in our dryers because lint isn't becoming on our clothing. Filters remove something that is definitely there, but we don't necessarily want to deal with. We don't want the grinds in our coffee, nor the dust or pollen in our air. We don't want these things - so we create filters to block them from 'getting at us'. In reality, whenever we 'filter' our lives, we are just saying we are trying to keep others from dealing with the unpleasant stuff in us that really is there, but we aren't comfortable having anyone else deal with it other than us!

Since we apply filters in our own lives, we often 'apply' those filters in the lives of others, seeing them as we have 'filtered' them to be. This may not really help us in the long run because it could just be the things that are filtered out are really the things we need others to help us deal with and remove for good! Jesus didn't apply filters - he lived openly and he saw others in the same way he lived his life. Maybe it is time for us to do the same. Just sayin!

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