Somebody Save Me

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Do you feel at times you need saving? We often see individuals and groups in the media crying out, “We need to be saved!”.

I have found both in scripture and in life that looking to a saviour apart from Christ leaves me empty. Trusting in a man, a group or a philosophy ultimately leaves me hollow. This is the opposite of what I have found in Christ. There is no let down in him at any point in time.

What is it we let rob our peace? Do the happenings of our day cause us to call out for salvation to anyone who will listen? Or do we trust in the goodness of the Saviour we already have? Don’t get me wrong, receiving charity from a person or relying on others can be a very good thing, but not at the expense of our peace. This is not to say we should go through life numb and without anything rocking us. That would in fact remove us from the one above as well.

This is why Paul so adamantly shut down the comparisons and praise of the people. People wanted to make Paul their saviour. They mistook him as a God (Acts 14) and compared him to Apollos (1Corinthians 3) as the saviour to turn to. It took a concerted effort for Paul to fend off these attempts. This is still an issue today that religious leaders are looked to for saving rather than Christ himself.

So how do we navigate receiving, and expecting things from people without rejecting God in the process? Treating God as Saviour and Lord are both required. Surrender is how we know him as Saviour, not to be saved as we would desire, but how he chooses to do it. The story of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart, sending 10 plagues (Exodus 7-12) and then delivering the Israelites, is not how any of us would choose to be saved. But it was the way of God, and in the end, all of Israel (and Egypt) were in awe of God. Israel to this day knows God as the one who saved them from Egypt.

This is the essence of the first commandment — having no other Gods beside the Lord. Looking to a man or institution as an answer to a problem is fine, but not for salvation. What is the distinction?

Will we be saved by a vaccine or by a political party that restores our freedom? Are we waiting for these things? Are we like the Hebrew people who didn’t know their God and wanted Pharaoh to deliver them from the oppression he had placed upon them? Where did that get them? It was in finally turning to God as Saviour as they followed his instruction on the day of Passover, that they were saved from death.

Every time I hear or see a follower of Jesus use the term “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) I picture the Israelites crying out to God to give them a king. It is a statement of rejection of God and desire to trust in a man for their salvation. I am not making a political statement but an assessment of who we trust with saving us. The statement MAGA implies there is both a man and nation who can bring salvation. A vote for a person should not be a welcoming of a saviour.

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
1 Samuel 8:4-9

In the final days of Judges leading Israel, there came a cry from the people for a king. They desired a man as saviour and king instead of God. This was a rejection of God and not just an addition of another. They already had a system with leaders enacting the words of God, but they wanted to be like the rest of the world who didn’t know the God who brought them out of Egypt.

Looking elsewhere for a saviour reveals a rejection of Jesus. Just like Israel asking for a king, it comes down to us not understanding who Jesus is. Our seeking a saviour elsewhere is heartbreaking to God. It means we don’t really know Jesus. How could we search elsewhere if we did?

I think most Christians, if they were to give a quick gut response, would claim Jesus as Saviour. But if they were to take the proper time for introspection, they would realize they look elsewhere. I think there is often a divide between the songs we sing on Sunday and who we cry out to during the week.

The narrative of this world will always be that we need saving. It is what their hearts are screaming. It is the reality they live in. If they are self aware, it will be their reaction to their life situation because they do need a saviour. Since the fall, creation itself speaks to a need for a saviour. The heart of man is scrambling, searching for something or someone to cling to for salvation. We should not be surprised when politicians or social movements use this to build themselves up as a saviour. Have you noticed a political debate often turns into “if you vote for my opponent you are asking for destruction but if you vote for me you are asking for life”?

Are you seduced by this talk? Support for a person or recognition of the benefit they bring is not a bad thing. We should care about the place we live, but desperation for what one man could bring, or fear of what one man could provide reveals you are still looking for a saviour.

Does this mean we don’t take aid from others? No not at all! We receive it with thanksgiving of the person/people/organization, but also God. For we know that every good and perfect thing comes from above. Our provision is ultimately from him. So we are thankful for the vessel of blessing and the one who provides the blessing. The answer is not to become numb or go through life carefree. The answer is to put our faith in the Saviour who is always worthy of our trust, the one who is always faithful and merciful.

The narrative of the church should always be “we have found our Saviour and his name is Jesus”. The church has no need for another saviour, but only that which he provides. You will notice in Paul’s writing to the Ephesian church he makes a point in showing that God has gifted the church with apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers. They are not saviours but people provided by God to serve necessary functions. In turn, the Great Commission sends us out to make new disciples of Jesus. It is he who is saving them.

I leave you with a hymn that reflects my heart’s response to this topic.

“Great is Thy faithfulness, ” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness, ” Lord, unto me!
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness, ” Lord, unto me!
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness, ” Lord, unto me!
William Marion Runyan

Civic Duty

On Tuesday, in Canada, we exercised our civic duty, and privilege, in taking to the polls to vote for our nation’s representatives and leaders. This is a time when we have some of the most influence in shaping the future of our nation.

That being said, voting has nowhere near the power of prayer. Do not take this the wrong way. I will never pass up the opportunity to vote and will forever encourage others to do so in this country, but the power we possess in prayer, as we ask God to intervene, is far greater than any ballot we can submit. Our civic duty as believers goes far beyond the voting polls.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Ephesians 6:12

At times I find myself complaining and feeling stuck with the leadership of my country. In doing so, I take myself out of the fight for this land and people. Partisan politics can trick us into seeing the enemy as a person or a party. As followers of Jesus, we must acknowledge the ploys of the enemy but not be sucked into seeing the enemy as a person.

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”
Romans 13:1

When we look at the biblical setting of this letter written to the Romans, it is in the midst of the reign of one of the most brutal emperors and slayers of Christians there ever was in Nero. This passage was not conferring any legitimate respect for the person in leadership, but the office of leadership as God has allowed.

We do not belong here. This is our place of exile. We are to care for it and come under the authority of the leadership (because it has been placed there by God), but the happenings of this earth should not shake us. When the governing authority goes against our beliefs, or even against scripture, don’t panic.

Government authority has been against the practices of the church in much of the world, and for a lot of its existence. Although we have experienced freedom to practice as we wish in the great nation of Canada for so long, even if that changes, our being subject to authority doesn’t change. Our prayer for the leaders should not stop. We should still follow, as our faith allows, the laws of the land.

Our hope is not found in our leaders. Our hope is found in Christ alone. The party we voted for is not going to save us. Yes, we have a say in the process, but don’t let that draw you into resentment or complaining. We should want our leaders to thrive and not struggle. We should be praying that our leaders will receive wisdom and make good decisions that lead to peace, not hoping they fail.

I understand the inclination in partisan politics to see other parties as the enemy. There is an urge to cheer for their destruction so that they will not get another term. But isn’t that making an enemy out of men and women instead of seeing the true enemy in the process?

Let’s commit to praying for our leaders. Even when we don’t fully agree with the policy, let’s intercede for their decision-making ability, and pray they come to know the ways of the Lord so it may go well for us all. May we continually be aware our hope is in Christ and not in man. May we take comfort in the promise of struggle, and not expect policies to align with the kingdom of God but still intercede for it.

For we know that we belong to a kingdom that is not seen here on earth. Our hope will be fulfilled in the return of Jesus and not in the right government in power. Let us lean in with prayer to the happenings around us instead of critiquing from the peanut gallery.