Hello! Here is this week’s Living Water! Brian turns 13 today! Blessings, Christopher
Whether we like to admit it or not, and we usually don’t, we all need to be rescued. Some of us need to be rescued from financial problems, from toxic relationships, from mental or physical health issues, from soul-killing jobs, from our worst selves, from our destructive habits and addictions, from pride, self-sufficiency and anger, from our denial of needing a rescue, and from our sins, guilt and pasts.
Likewise, whether we like to admit it, we spend a significant amount of time and energy hoping that rescue comes – in the form we would have it. Case in point, how many of us spent money and time dreaming of what we were going to do with the $640 million we were going to win last week? Many of us believed that winning would be the rescue of all rescues – all the other problems would go away.
If you can believe it, it’s the same idea or motivation that drew all those people to shout “Hosannas” wave palms and throw their cloaks (Mark 11:1-11) before a relatively unknown guy riding on a donkey. They believed he was the promised answer to their problems – Roman and economic oppression, spiritual disconnection from God, restoration of their kingdom. As we know today, those “Hosannas” turned to curses laster that week. What happened?
Well, then and today, God did come to rescue; it’s just that it often doesn’t come in the way we expect or are ready for or even desire. You see Jesus came into Jerusalem that day in peace. And in Mark’s Gospel, after the “parade” it says he went into the temple and looked around – his temple – think about it – the dwelling place for God and God in the flesh together. He had come in peace – to restore and reconcile God and God’s people to relationship. But the people were hoping for a warrior king who was going to lead a revolution and kick out the Romans. Thus the “Hosannas” turning to “Crucify Him!” He wasn’t the rescue or answer they wanted.
But he was the rescue God sent and the rescue they actually needed whether they knew it not. God knew then and still knows today that what we really need first is a spiritual rescue. First of course from our sins but if we trace and analyze the roots of all our other challenges and issues – the roots are spiritual. So in Jesus’ time, when the people were thinking that the answer to all their problems – their rescue needed to be an overthrow of Roman oppression – God sends the Prince of Peace – His peace to them. Because an overthrow of sin and pride and despair would be far more liberating and life-giving than Rome being evicted from Palestine.
And so today, there is no strategy, no plan, no system, not even steps that compare with the rescue God has provided – Jesus. Then and today, Jesus is the rescue and the answer. He himself is the rescue and peace – embracing Him. All the things we look to for a rescue – Megamillions, relationships, another drink, popularity, new jobs, new church, new city – all the things we think we make it all go away – will not get to the root.
Listen, it’s because the point is not to be richer or more successful or more loved as a way to achieve peace – God’s point all along with us is that our relationship with Him through Jesus is the starting point and source of our joy, grace, and peace, then all the other things will be added. It’s not about solving all our problems with cash and mantras – it’s so that we can see and endure anything that happens in our lives and still say or sing, “It is well with my soul (because I am His and He is mine).” When you and I can more and more genuinely say and believe that no matter what the circumstance – that’s abundant life, that’s living rescued and forgiven, that’s faith, that’s the peace beyond understanding.
Maybe you’ve been praying for a rescue or an answer for a long time. And you feel like it’s never come. Maybe you’ve been faithful in waiting for it – “it” as you imagined it would be. But you’re still waiting, still hoping. That’s a good thing. It’s a very good thing to recognize the need to be rescued and that God could be or is the one to turn to. And about that rescue or answer seeming delayed…
Maybe it’s because the rescue you really needed, was right there all along, right in front of you…
Rev. Christopher B. Wolf
Christopher B. Wolf is pastor of First Reformed Church of Saddle Brook and is the author of Giving Faith a Second Chance: Restarts, Mulligans and Do-Overs (2007) and With You Every Step of the Way; and the host of Walk With Me, Wednesdays 8 pm on WYFN 94.9 FM-NY and on www.yfnradio.com.
“It is a matter of sharing and bearing the pain and puzzlement of the world so that the crucified love of God in Christ may be brought to bear healingly upon the world at exactly that point.