“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven…’
“From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.’ Matthew 16:13-17,21-23
It is important to understand the ‘hearsay’ that permeates our culture, for that is where we live and need to interact knowledgeably and compassionately with others. But when we base our thinking, and therefore our doing, on what others say, or untruth, we get into trouble. When Peter was guided by the Holy Spirit, his thinking was right, but when he listened to the polls, setting his mind on and forming his opinions by the things of man, his thinking went askew. He had a clear grasp on Who Jesus was, refusing to give in to crowd opinion. But then he let his feelings tangle with his creed, and his thinking swooped down from lofty to that tainted with emotion that resisted pain and discomfort, and he wanted to stop Jesus from being the Savior.
People in authority, and those who think they have authority, fill the shelves where we form convictions with many choices. ‘Some say’ and ‘others say,’ but what do we say?
Do we have greater appetite for the polls, that are steered by manipulation of words and demographics and skewed by media attention, than for the north pole of God’s unchanging truth? Do we care more about opinion, valuing what others think, than assessing ourselves and situations and beliefs with help from the Holy Spirit? Do we claim to stand firm on what is right, but allow feelings to soften our stance?
When public opinion says ‘accept what feels right,’ will we renew our minds to discern God’s will? When the polls say ‘fear, beware,’ will we be anxious for nothing, pray in everything, and set our minds on what is true? (Romans 12:2; Philippians 4:6-8)
“Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.” ~St. Dallán Forgaill (sixth century)
Good Father, may I trust in You with all my heart, lean only on Your understanding, and ground every aspect of my living in Your glorious truth. (Proverbs 3:5)