""Every story of conversion is the story of a blessed defeat." -C.S. Lewis
I preached a message this Sunday called: "The Savior, Serpent and the Sea"; it was a word for the weary. I contrasted the differences between the world views that were present during the emergence of the gospel:
Greek/Roman World View:
Man alone against the world
Man against the Gods
Man, destroys or saves himself
Fate and Destiny
Christian World View:
*Christ and His Father seeking to save the world
*Man is loved by God
*Man is rescued
*Purpose and Will
I think the heart of the message is best summoned up in Paul's statement in Romans 8:28-39:
"If God is for us, who can be against us?".
It's easy to conclude that the universe is against you in these days and times...life often sends that message...and one can wither under the heat of fate and destiny. It can feel as if someone has predetermined a load for your life that crushes, drains, deflates, numbs, disillusions, frightens, dispirits and cauterizes your already hardening heart.
Most religions and/or spiritual philosophies teach some form of spiritualized escapism to deal with the realities around us. They promise some form of help after the grave or they teach techniques to mentally transform our pains through thinking differently or formulating fanciful meditations to endure. Most of that stuff deadens us...it's a religious act of producing callouses over our souls.
Other groups rally the troops, strike up the band, beat the shields and trumpet Braveheart-like charge into battle speeches. Pastors bark like King Leonidas of Sparta; stirring the blood to evoke some sort of barbarian frenzy that will carry people through their mounting difficulties. But after a while how many of those "captain on the horse" speeches can you endure before they all sound like brainwashing to get you to do something that is going to kill you!
Then there are those slick haired, fancy suited, velveteen voices that aim for the manifest destiny, industrialist within people. They manufacture Tower of Babel like promises and put a brick in one hand and sword in your other and enlist you into various religious part-time jobs; that at first make you feel needed and important; but eventually just turn you into mules for man-made kingdoms.
Or there's the slipper wearing couch counselors that soothe and sing to all your inner booboos and oowies. They cater and coddle to the ever whimpering crowd. They are the soft spoken Santa's that hug like Oprah and meander pointlessly...turning meetings into one big Chiropractor visit...they are always expensive and never actually get you healed.
The gospel of Jesus accomplishes more than just producing religious opiates...it really is good news for those who have even started to think that God is against them. Instead of reinforcing the idea that the universe is being run by some hot headed, capricious Brutes, Beasts and bodacious Brothelites...it tells of a loving, self revealing Father.The gospel of Jesus, reveals a Father who is rescuing His Children. It proclaims a Savior that comes to do what we could not do. It reveals a true Hero, so that you can let go of the empty mythologizing of your own strengths and accept the blessed defeat of faith...and then enter into the victory of His work for you. Jesus is the God who is with us. He comes to us...alone in our sinking vessel of broken hopes and dreams, shattered power and under-realized ambitions...and He beckons us out onto the waves to experience life lived through His life.
This is truly...Good News.