“Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
“But what about you?” Jesus 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” (Matt 16:15-18)
I recently went to a presentation at the TriBeCa Film Festival entitled “How Does A Space Tell A Story.” The panel included celebrity Chef Danny Myers and renowned NYC Architect David Rockwell. Both men talked about how designing space can uniquely tell a story about a neighborhood, and portray the overall theme of a restaurant. Danny Myers has opened some of NYC’s best restaurants. Many New Yorkers will recognize a few like the Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Maialino, Shake Shack, Blue Smoke and North End Grill.
When he opened his first restaurant in 1985, the young Myers needed an affordable space to start his dream. He soon found a great space in the Union Square area of Manhattan- on East 16th Street. He spent endless amounts of time trying to find the right name for it, but nothing seemed to click. He initially wanted a name that would signify something fresh and trendy. His Father said to him, “you should just call it what it is” Danny replied, “well what is it?” “His Father answered, “It is the Union Square Cafe“… Union Square is currently one of the more desirable areas in Manhattan; however in the early 1980s the park was a center for crime, drugs and prostitution. The last thing Myers wanted was for customers to associate his new restaurant with the declining neighborhood. However, his father told him to take ownership of not only his restaurant, but the whole community. His dad encouraged him to grow with the area and be part of the solution to help it change for the better. Thirty years later and the rest is history. Both the restaurant and neighborhood are a great success. Danny Myers is now the founder of the Union Square Hospitality Group. His career has had a significant influence on the neighborhood; thanks to his restaurants, generosity, and hospitality group.
What we decide to name things have a very profound impact on our futures. In the scriptures many people were saying that Jesus was simply a teacher or prophet; however Peter takes it a step further and says, “you are the Christ and the Son of the living God.” Peter took ownership of his belief and made a confession that changed the course of his life. Before his declaration, his name was Simon, but after Jesus had heard his bold statement he changed his name to Peter, which meant Rock.
Peter’s statement of faith and sensitivity to the voice of the Holy Spirit took him to places he never thought possible. This one-time struggling fisherman was now becoming a world-renowned evangelist, prophet and leader in the greatest movements of all time. He didn’t become this great man of God by pretending to be something he wasn’t. He made a bold statement of faith to take ownership of the fact that Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophesy.
How does your life tell a story? Are you taking ownership of it? Is your faith in Christ your foundation, or is it an add-on each Sunday morning? Like Peter, we should declare what we believe, but more importantly incorporate it into our daily lives. As believers, we need to take ownership of our neighborhoods, schools, workplaces and families. We are the hands and feet of Jesus, and how we decide to live out our lives may help determine the fate of others around us. Make a decision to be an actual Christian. Let’s call it what it is. We are followers of the Son of the living God. The Bible teaches us that “anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun.”
Just like a raw space that needs a gut renovation, God can come in and completely turn your life around. Our new lives can tell a beautiful story of how Jesus changed us from the inside out. We are no longer identified by our past but are now living testimonies of his amazing grace., power and forgiveness.
Having a legacy of restaurants is a great accomplishment, but building up people and leading them to Christ is priceless. Today I encourage you to let your light shine. It’s a new day!