Have you ever found yourself cycling? Going through the same internal rhythm- the same struggles, same fears- it’s almost as if you are a machine working through it’s cycles- upwards climes and downwards spirals… all our lives we wash, rinse and repeat- over and over and over again. We feel the tension of responsibility- and we react in kind- like we always do. We go to work and labor as usual- drive home on our circling track- suns rise and suns set- and inside we feel ourselves revolving around our own hearts and minds and souls. It can be wearying.
In traditional Christianity, we find the idea over and over again about our need for a savior- about how we must come to a place somehow, where we are aware of our need for Jesus and what he has done for us. How we need to accept this and then stake ourselves within this singular identity. I think this is a good starting place, but I feel like the term savior is becoming cliche through overuse and misunderstanding. There are deep flavors to the biblical words we are challenged to chew- there is flavor and spice. The idea associated with being saved is that we have bad things not accepted by society or within church culture. But I want to say that just as Jesus is the WAY- and how he offers a different road- we are on an opposite road until we follow him. It is not enough to simply say we need saving from certain bad habits- but we ourselves- all of us- all of our bodies, all of our minds, all of our souls need saving. We (our whole entirety) need (desperately- like we’re suffocating or starving) a savior (Jesus, complete trust and unquestioningly Lord, because of who he is- our great lover).
We need a savior.
I think this whole saving process begins when we become self-aware. We being to want to want to be different or better- whole- new… and that somehow, way down here on Earth- in the midst of our struggles and wearing- revolving around our selves- how somehow we will be made brand new- we will be born again. And not just that we will, like some unalterable destiny- but how we really actually want it- need it- yearn for it so deeply some of us spend our whole lives never knowing it was for this very thing we were thirsting for.
When we say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ do we really understand what we are saying? It’s not just a euphorism. It’s not a bumpersticker or even a church sign. We are declaring the deep nature within one of the most sacred relationships ever created. When I was in radio- there was this ministry out of Santa Fe I would work with sometimes- and they had these ridiculous bumper stickers which read, ‘Jesus is Lord over Santa Fe’… they crossed the line into farce- and while I know the people who made them meant well- I think it’s almost like airing your dirty laundry in public- It’s not that we ought to be ashamed or our relationship with God- but it’s as if we really, truly believe we are dealing with something sacred and holy, we ought to be a bit more hushed about it- because it is so lovely- so wonderful- so special. We lose this, I think, sometimes in church where we’re used to doing the same old thing year in year out. Familiarity breeds contempt.
I think this sentiment, too, cries for redemption. The Church itself needs redemption. It needs self-actualization. It needs to realize how special it is.
Once I met a man who acted like he was a prophet- I dont know if he was or not, but he answered someone asking him a question about how the church had failed her- and he said quite emphatically, to remember that the church is the bride of Christ- again more cliche- but see the meaning underneath. If we could break free from the religious lingo clouding the meaning of these holy words we bandy- we would see and know and be shocked to realize how we have handled so many heavenly coals with bare hands far too often.
We, in the very midst of our depravity- our self-depreciating manners of living- we need a savior. It is almost as if we play act ourselves- as if Ryan or Daniel were parts in a play which we volunteered to act. And if we did, it means we are not defined by the characters perform as. We are not type cast- we are someone similar to our characters- but also somehow more truly real- created as someone else- someone beautiful and whole and lovely- like Christ who is really God. We need new names- we are like an actor who has become his character so completely, he forgets that the light will eventually be shut off after the theater empties after the play. We will all go out for a cast party and then go home afterwards. This is like what will happen in heaven.
17 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.
We are promised a Tesseract. A white stone. And a new name. We will take off our costumes and play-act no more. We need saving. And I think the better we realize and understand just how much we need a savior, Jesus- the more we will be joyful- the more the real lights will outshine the stage lights- the more real things will feel real in our hands- we will relearn the difference between props and reality- between smoky blanks and real feelings.
In the Bible there is a story of when Jacob wrestles with God-
New International Version (NIV)
Jacob Wrestles With God
22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.
-The amount of force it takes to dislocate a hip is the sort of force involved with car accidents and football games.
Jacob, as you will recall- stole the family inheritance from his older brother by impersonating him. When his ailing father asked him who he was, he lied and insisted he was his older brother. And now God asks him the very same question his Father once asked him. You can imagine the chills going up Jacob’s spine. I think it’s also interesting how Jacob asks God his name- and he doesn’t answer- but just blesses him instead.
God gives Jacob a new name, Israel- a name which will hold a legacy far beyond the sore man’s comprehension.
And I want to remind everyone how we will be given a new name. I would even venture to say, as sore and tired as we are- as much as we need a savior- we hold a legacy far beyond our own comprehension. And God said it was very good.
Remember who you are. You are not your own- you are not the character you impersonate. You will be renamed. You will one day leave this weary track for your real home- after the cast-party- where there are no more tears- where things make sense and you are whole. Remember who you are, and live likewise. Remember who you have to thank for this. Jesus is Lord.
Like what you read? Join in with your own insights, stories and art- send them to email@example.com. Thanks and God bless -Ryan