Chapel speaker's question: 'What are you here for?'

"Who tells you who you are?" was one of the three questions Jo Saxton asked the audience during her Chapel talk Monday.

Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Gillian Rea
GCU News Bureau

Jo Saxton is a Nigerian who grew up in London and now resides in Minneapolis. She’s seen a few things. Her favorite things about America?

“Target – great gift from Jesus. Love myself some Target,” she said in her delightful British accent. “And also the bacon. It’s a very special thing. Sorry to all of you who are vegetarians or vegans. I didn’t mean to be insensitive … (pause for comedic effect)

“… but I’ll eat yours as well if you like.”

Saxton said every generation has had to decide what they want to do with their lives.

Her Chapel talk Monday morning at Grand Canyon University Arena asked a question that’s far more life-changing than breakfast or a shopping trip. The director of 3DM, which trains and coaches church leaders, wanted to know:

What on Earth are you here for?

It was meant to be a challenge to anyone in the audience who has been dawdling in their spiritual journey for whatever reason. It’s a tale as old as time.

“Every generation has to work out what they’re doing on Earth,” she said.

Saxton had to work it out herself. When she was 18, she went through a stretch where she turned away from God.

“It wasn’t as if He didn’t exist,” she said. “I just wasn’t a big fan any longer.”

But through poor choices and other revelations, she saw the error in her ways and now proclaims, “Either this is real and He changes lives, or we should go and play soccer instead. … The good stuff is, He IS real.”

Saxton referenced Matthew 16:13-19, which tells of how Jesus takes his disciples on a retreat to Philippi. It wasn’t exactly a resort – Philippi was associated with all that was terrible in society, including human trafficking, animal sacrifices and a cave leading to the Jordan River that was described as “the gates of hell.”

“He doesn’t take them to what I would like to do for a retreat,” Saxton said. “I believe retreats should have spas and bacon.”

But it’s what happened there that changed the world:

Jesus' covenant with Peter was a turning point for humanity, Saxton said.

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

“But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

“When Peter is speaking these words,” Saxton said, “it’s more than the right answer. It’s that God has so impacted his life, he’s able to see something that changes the course of human history and changes his own story.”

These were her three questions that she believes could change every person’s story:

First, who do you think Jesus is?

“At some point in our lives, we have to answer that question,” Saxton said.

But it doesn’t mean that knowing Jesus means a carefree life of, say, Target and bacon. When she encountered someone who expected too much, Saxton told her, “Honey, that was Disney. That was not Jesus.”

But Jesus is many things, Saxton added: friend, king, judge, deliverer, father, justice.

“As adults, you get to decide what this walk with Jesus will be,” she said.

Saxton said that, yes, sticks and stones can hurt, but so can words -- in a life-altering way.

Her second question: Who gets to tell you who you are?

This was where she got particularly passionate. She humorously described Peter as that “Me! Me! Call on me!” person in elementary school classes.

“He is that person who felt they knew everything and they kind of did, which is also why you wanted to gently stroke them across your cheek while wearing rings,” Saxton said. “Maybe that was just me …”

She decried the idea the old saying, “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Words DO hurt … a lot.

“Words have a way of getting into your head, going into your heart and your soul, and lodging themselves in your heart,” she said.

And that’s how Jesus’ declaration to Peter ties in.

“Jesus’ words to Peter here are for you because He gives him a new name. He gives him a new story,” Saxton said. “He tells him that wherever he’s been and whatever he’s done and whatever has been done to him is not the last word on his life.

“And whatever has happened to you or whoever you’ve been or whatever anybody has said is not the last word on your life. It’s not the last word on your story.”

Saxton began her last question with this statement:

“The covenant Jesus has with you today redefines your identity and your purpose.”

And the question was the same one she asked at the outset:

What are you here for?

“What if we unleashed the spirit of God on the world?” she wondered.

Saxton urged the audience to not wait to do the unleashing.  

“We need you to rise up into your calling, rise up with your innovations, with your creativity, with your ideas, with all that you have to change a broken and hurting world,” she said.

Then, raising her arms heavenward …

“If not you, then who?

“If not now, then when?

“And if not here, then where?”

● Next week’s speaker: Chad Moore, Sun Valley Community Church

Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].

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Bible Verse

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. (1 John 3:1)

To Read More: www.verseoftheday.com/