My life is a living testimony – a witness – to the identity of Jesus of Nazareth. I cannot choose to not testify to His identity. What I can choose, to a great degree, is the content of that testimony. That is to say, I can testify falsely or truthfully regarding Him.
Is my life a narrative of truth or a narrative of falsehood regarding Jesus?
By what name is He known to the world through me?
Likewise, Jesus testifies to who I am by Who He desires to be in and through me. The specificity of His good and perfect witness through me is the manner in which He saves me. It is crucial, therefore, to submit myself, align myself through repentance and obedience, to this chosen manner of expression.
To press the point even further, Jesus testifies to who others are. I do not have the prerogative to “name” others. Jesus reveals their identity to me in the manner and to the degree He chooses. It is my responsibility to seek and serve first Him in the other person and then serve the person as he or she is revealed by Jesus to me.
It is upon this rock — the harmony of my identity with His and living out of that union in union with others whose life witnesses the same union and a unique expression of it — that Jesus will build His church. For, the church is the body of those who witness in spirit and truth to the fullness of His identity.
Here is what St. Cyril of Jerusalem says on the matter:
- Believe thou In One Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son of God. For we say “One Lord Jesus Christ,” that His Sonship may be “Only-begotten:” we say “One,” that thou mayest not suppose another: we say “One,” that thou mayest not profanely diffuse the many namesof His action among many sons. For He is called a Door; but take not the name literally for a thing of wood, but a spiritual, a living Door, discriminating those who enter in. He is called a Way, not one trodden by feet, but leading to the Father in heaven; He is called a Sheep, not an irrational one, but the one which through its precious blood cleanses the world from its sins, which is led before the shearers, and knows when to be silent. This Sheep again is called a Shepherd, who says, I am the Good Shepherd: a Sheep because of His manhood, a Shepherd because of the loving-kindness of His Godhead. And wouldst thou know that there are rational sheep? the Saviour says to the Apostles, Behold, I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Again, He is called a Lion, not as a devourer of men, but indicating as it were by the title His kingly, and stedfast, and confident nature: a Lion He is also called in opposition to the lion our adver58sary, who roars and devours those who have been deceived. For the Saviour came, not as having changed the gentleness of His own nature, but as the strong Lion of the tribe of Judah, saving them that believe, but treading down the adversary. He is called a Stone, not a lifeless stone, cut out by men’s hands, but a chief corner-stone, on whom whosoever believeth shall not be put to shame.
- He is called Christ, not as having been anointed by men’s hands, but eternally anointed by the Father to His High-Priesthood on behalf of men. He is called Dead, not as having abode among the dead, as all in Hades, but as being alone free among the dead. He is called Son of Man, not as having had His generation from earth, as each of us, but as coming upon the clouds To Judge Both Quick and Dead. He is called Lord, not improperly as those who are so called among men, but as having a natural and eternal Lordship. He is called Jesus by a fitting name, as having the appellation from His salutary healing. He is called Son, not as advanced by adoption, but as naturally begotten. And many are the titles of our Saviour; lest, therefore, His manifold appellations should make thee think of many sons, and because of the errors of the heretics, who say that Christ is one, and Jesus another, and the Door another, and so on, the Faith secures thee beforehand, saying well, In One Lord Jesus Christ: for though the titles are many, yet their subject is one.
- But the Saviour comes in various forms to each man for his profit. For to those who have need of gladness He becomes a Vine; and to those who want to enter in He stands as a Door; and to those who need to offer up their prayers He stands a mediating High Priest. Again, to those who have sins He becomes a Sheep, that He may be sacrificed for them. He is made all things to all men, remaining in His own nature what He is. For so remaining, and holding the dignity of His Sonship in reality unchangeable, He adapts Himself to our infirmities, just as some excellent physician or compassionate teacher; though He is Very Lord, and received not the Lordship by advancement, but has the dignity of His Lordship from nature, and is not called Lord improperly, as we are, but is so in verity, since by the Father’s bidding He is Lord of His own works. For our lordship is over men of equal rights and like passions, nay often over our elders, and often a young master rules over aged servants. But in the case of our Lord Jesus Christ the Lordship is not so: but He is first Maker, then Lord: first He made all things by the Father’s will, then, He is Lord of the things which were made by Him.
–The Catechetical Lectures of St. Cyril of Jerusalem (313-350), Number 10.