Sunday, December 11, 2011

Lower Case and Upper Case Saviors

     At a conference several weeks ago, Robert Kellerman noted:  “Despair drives us to what we really hope in.”   Good times and pleasure and success can allow us the freedom to pursue what we like – but hard times, pain, and failure drive us to things in which we place our hope.   
     It is an inescapable part of human nature:  we constantly need and seek saviors.
  • Doctors save us from sickness.
  • Money saves us from poverty.
  • Sex saves us from loneliness.
  • Exercise and diet saves us from disease.
  • Education saves us from ignorance.
  • Government saves us from chaos.
  • Friends and family save us from isolation.
  • Entertainment saves us from boredom.

           Each of those can offer a form of salvation in the moment in a particular, limited, fleeting way.  Money can save you from poverty.  Education can save you from ignorance.  Doctors can save you from disease.   When they do they are meant to point us toward the one who ultimately saves and restores us. They are all what I call “lower case saviors,” and it makes sense that we turn to them to solve lower case dilemmas.

     We get tripped up when we make the lower case “s” an upper case  “S.”  Little temporary saviors can only save us in little temporary ways.   We want them to solve our ultimate, deepest problems, but they simply cannot save us in that way.  

     It’s the Titanic perspective.  Rose says: “But now you know there was a man named Jack Dawson and that he saved me…in every way that a person can be saved.”  No, he didn’t.  He couldn’t even save himself. 

     At best, lower case saviors can save you in one very specific way – say, money from poverty.  But it’s salvation is limited.  It cannot bear the weight of your life.   Neither can money…a spouse… friends…. a job… money….education…health…sex…doctors… They cannot save you.  They were never meant to.  We may want to believe these will save us, but what we want to be true is sometimes very different from what is true.

    At Christmas, we are reminded why the entrance of Christ into the world gives us what we both want and need if we are to be truly saved:

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2)

   There is only one Savior from whom we find true wisdom and knowledge; who provides true wealth that will not fade; who provides true love and relationship; who makes us healthy in ways that won’t vary depending on our prescription or exercise plan; who provides true forgiveness of sin; true hope; true joy.

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