"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
The end of last week saw an avalanche of history specials and biopics on Abraham Lincoln in celebration of the 200th anniversary of his birth in a humble log cabin in the wilds of Kentucky. As a history junkie, I enjoyed a few of these documentaries and at the same time saw a stream of continuity throughout them.
They all seemed to be exploring the question of 'who was the real Abe Lincoln?'
He's become almost a mythological creature, the Great Emancipator, Honest Abe, the country boy in the stove top hat, the moral compass of a nation embroiled in conflict. We invoke his name, uphold his memory, build mighty memorials in his honor.
We've made him an icon...and lost the man.
Because a man he was. Flawed, brilliant, depressed, self-motivated, funny, morose. He succeeded, he failed, he won, he lost.
And I find that when I drop the simple historical profile of Abe Lincoln, when I learn more about the complexities of his nature, the more remarkable, the more dimensional he becomes.
And I have to ask myself, why do we feel the need as humans to reduce personalities to simple stereotypes?
Why are we so uncomfortable with allowing someone, a leader, a president, a politician, a writer, to exist as the complex, complicated beings they are? Why do we have such trouble in allowing the dichotomies?
And in my human need to simplify, categorize and, in some way, control my perceptions, how often have I done this with my God?
I seem to either categorize the Lord as the angry, bolt-throwing, Sodom-burning Deity of my fearful legalism, or I see Him as the jolly, blase, softy my understanding of grace demands.
But what if my biopics on Jehovah are too simplistic, too compartmentalized? What if I am not allowing my understanding to come directly from Him, but rather from my restrictive ability to understand?
Even though Scripture is clear that I cannot fathom Him.
He is the God of the creation. He says His name is Jealous. He is the Lord captivated by the beauty of His bride. He paints rainbows and stops time. He calls Himself the 'many-breasted one' when it comes to providing for His people. He stands outside of time and came as a baby born at a specific time in history. He is a poet, an artist, the Great Physician, the judge, the jury and the advocate. He causes it to rain on the just and the unjust.
And while He never changes, He is not static.
He defies my simple explanations.
And He is a servant who is Lord.
So I'm called again to relinquish my elementary explanations, my formulaic character descriptions, my predictive personality profiles. Because the God of the universe cannot be contained within the comfortable confines of my reasoning and He won't be controlled by the expectations of my sophomoric heart. He gallops in the wilds of eternity on His horse of Truth, blazing the paths of destiny and salvation.
And I say, along with Peter, that He is the Christ.
And He gets to define what that means.