Is it I?

I vividly remember the day, many years ago, when my former employer called all of his staff together. I anticipated some exciting news, and you can only imagine my utter astonishment when my boss entered the staff room and started to yell at us. His face was as red as a lobster, and I had no idea a human being could have such lung capacity! My ears are still ringing thinking about it!

The funny thing is, though I vividly remember the incident, I can't remember a word he said! I was too much in shock, too busy asking myself what I might have done to contribute to his anger. What he was so displeased about didn't seem to fit with anything I had done at my present work location, but could it be that I had inadvertently been the cause of his outburst? I wanted to ask him: "Is it I? Please tell me how to improve." But I was too terrified to utter a word (wouldn't you?), and instead, I remained completely quiet.

After the meeting, several of my colleagues came to me. They knew I was new, and this was my first experience with such an outburst. They explained to me that this was our boss's way of dealing with problems. He never confronted an individual alone; he preferred to yell at every one, even the innocent ones, with the hope that the problem would be resolved that way.

"Is it I?"

This is a common question in the face of trouble. Why is it that we so often feel guilty?

"Is it I?"

Is it possibly this is because we ARE guilty?

Jesus' disciples were no better. When Jesus was eating His last meal with them, He had a declaration that utterly amazed them: "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me." (Matt 26:21 NIV)

Imagine, being one of His followers. What would your reaction have been? You might know full well that you had not made any deals with His religious opponents, but still you would wonder: "Could I possibly betray Jesus?"

This was exactly how the disciples reacted: "They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, 'Surely not I, Lord?'" (Matt 26:22 NIV)

We know from history that Judas was the one who officially betrayed Jesus for 30 silver pieces. But watch what happened when Jesus was arrested: "All the disciples deserted him and fled." (Matt. 26:56 NIV) Where were His faithful disciples then? Even the hardcore Peter, who vouched he would never desert Jesus, disowned Him three times in front of an entire group of people (see Matthew 26:69-75).

Maybe Judas was the only one who officially betrayed Jesus, but in reality, all of the disciples betrayed Him by not standing by Him during those difficult times, by fleeing without any second thoughts for Jesus' safety or wellbeing. Jesus was utterly alone when facing His evil-plotting accusers. Where were those who claimed to be His followers?

Reality is that we are all sinners, and we, too, usually think about our own welfare first: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God . . ." (Rom 3:23 NIV) Would we have done any better if we had been there during Jesus' arrest? Do we do any better today? In our day and age, Jesus is being slandered right and left. Are we doing anything to help those who do not even know His unfailing love? Is there any hope for us to stand for Jesus and not betray Him by our actions?

The Good News says yes. In the end, every one of Jesus' disciples, except for Judas, turned into bold defenders of the faith, and all of them, with the exception of John, willingly died on behalf of their Savior! What turned them into bold witnesses of the Lord? "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8 NIV)

Boldness comes only if we depend solely on the power of God's Spirit and not on ourselves. Whenever we stand on our own merits, we utterly fail. It is at those times that we wonder, "Is it I?" However when we let the Holy Spirit sit in the driver's seat, our question turns into an exclamation: "All for Jesus!"

"He had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus." (Acts 9:27 NIV)

Only when we stop depending on ourselves and start giving the Holy Spirit His rightful place in our lives will others notice that something is different about us.

"They were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." (Acts 4:13-14 NIV)

We can continue to stumble and wonder "Is it I?", or we can stop focusing on ourselves and fix our eyes on the "perfecter of our faith" (see Heb 12:2) and make a worthwhile difference in this world.

"I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (Eph 3:17-19 NIV)

Rob Chaffart

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