I have a confession to make.
It might not seem like a big deal to you. But it is a big one to me.
For a long time, I have dealt with a lot of self-doubt. A lot of insecurity. A lot of anxiety and even occasional depression. I thought that all of these things might have many different causes.
It has taken me nearly all of my 30 years to realize that virtually all of the sufferings in my mind all come from one source.
The source of all my frustrations and anxieties is this: I care …
I care about what people think of me. I care about it a lot.
I care about it at work. I care about it in church. I care about what you think of me. It really is true. I am not speaking in hyperbole. I have tried to hide or deny that fact. I have tried to act like I don’t care. But trying to cover it up has caused me so much suffering. I care profoundly about what people think of me. Maybe that makes me a narcissist. Now, I’m afraid people might think I’m a narcissist.
Perhaps in our age of social media, it’s easier than ever to get caught up in what others think of us. There are so many more people whose opinions we can care about.
This is what I’m trying to do to recover from my obsession with what people think of me.
Who Do You Say That I Am?
There comes a point in the books of Matthew, Mark and Luke when Jesus could not be more popular. He is feeding thousands, healing, teaching. Everyone wants a piece of Jesus.
At some point, Jesus asks his disciples something curious. He asks, “Who do people say I am?” In other words, when Jesus isn’t around, what do people say about him?
For a guy with a penchant for making a public spectacle, it’s a rare moment of reflection. Jesus is actually wondering what the public opinion is about him. And the news isn’t great. Everyone has wildly different expectations for Jesus. Some people think he’s John the Baptist or Elijah or another prophet. That’s got to be discouraging.
Do They Have a Right to Their Opinion?
Jesus does something interesting in light of this bad news.