Photo by Oliver Sjöström
Here’s the analogy that explains what’s up with you and me: We’re both stuck in a violent sea with nothing but a temporary life jacket to keep you and I afloat amid the aggressive waves. We might not even always know it, and sometimes the sea can lull us to sleep and feel like a jetted hot tub, and life seems great for awhile. But ultimately, at the end of the day, reality begs to differ. Drowning is eventually inevitable, and is only a matter of time. The dismal sea represents the darkness of our own doing, and if we’re gonna be real, we’ll each admit we’ve done stuff that’s wrong sometime in our life and that we’re not proud of. We got ourselves into this mess, and it’s really been sucking for us lately.
Don’t believe humans are capable of darkness? Check your news feed any day of the week. We’re valuable, but we also have real issues. It’s our own fault, and blaming it on others only proves the point about how self-serving and dark we can really be. I’m not gonna sugar coat it. I’m gonna be real. There’s a word for the dark stuff you and I have done. God, the One who Created us, calls that stuff ‘sin’. It’s not popular to talk about, and is almost worse than dropping an F-bomb, but I said it. S-I-N. Period.
With all the evidence for sin, if we try to deny it, that only proves its existence even more. And trying to masquerade it under any other name is only another sinful, selfish, and destructive exercise in futility that hurts us with smart sounding rhetoric and self-imposed, feel-good deception. Kind of like in The Matrix. Don’t fall for that. It’s ‘intellectual’ excrement. Even if your Ph.D. Professor with 4 degrees and 18 books teaches it, yep...still self-serving ‘intellectual’ sewage that will only make your brain reek.
Back to the analogy: But then, while we’re slowly drowning in a merciless sea of our own sin, a night storm rolls in and we cry out for help! It starts to sink in that we’re moments from death, and the darkness is poised to swallow us alive. We can’t win this. The sea is massive, cold, indifferent, brutal and there’s no love or hope in sight.
But then...something surprising and huge breaks through and we never saw it coming. Boom! The unstoppable and relentless spot-light of a Rescue helicopter punches through the rain-infested darkness. When we were screwed and helpless to rescue ourselves, it shines right on top of us in blinding light. We look up and squint as that beautiful, powerful chopper hovers right over the top of us, like it has us on a tracker somehow, or like it miraculously heard our cry for help over the drumming thunder of the storm. In seconds, the door flings open, the fast-rope comes flying out, and the rescuer slides down with lightning speed and passionate determination on His face.
“I got you!” He lifts you and I from the sea before we can choke out the words ‘Thank You’. In the most mind-blowing change of our life, we are rescued and pulled from death to life!
Maybe we’ve never realized how desperate we really are...how desperate our sin makes us... and that blissful naivete gives us the illusion of liberty to play head games and dictate the terms of our rescue, or to arrogantly deny that we need to be rescued at all. Or maybe we naively think we have all the time in the world, so why not live it up and just be in the moment, and ignore the future? Selfishly, we don’t want to admit we need rescuing, especially from a dismal situation we got ourselves into. That’s especially blasphemous to the spirit of many in our generation! We claim we’re all about honesty, anti-hate, tolerance, open-mindedness, and authenticity, but the mere suggestion that we need a Rescuer from our sin, hurts our pride, makes use defensive, and angers us to retaliate scorched earth.
Many in our generation want to think we don’t have a sin problem. That we’ve evolved beyond sin. And don’t tell us otherwise, or you’ll experience the greatest hate and intolerance you’ve ever seen! Animus to that which threatens our pride and moral autonomy manipulates us like a hand in a sock puppet. It’s sadly predictable, and for many in our generation, the sensitive underbelly and cherished self-image have become crystal clear. We proclaim tolerance and our demeanor is civil, until our sacred gods of self are challenged. When that happens, our inner Banner rages into the Hulk.
We’re really good at making excuses and trying to argue for what serves us the most. I’m calling myself out too. I’ve done it. We’ve all done it. But the unintended boomerang effect can be lethal. It’s like a paradox, and contrary to our first instinct as human beings: That which violates our pride simultaneously secures our survival and provides for our elevation back to where we belong. Admitting we need a Rescuer doesn’t prompt God to shame us and push us further down into the depths of our own sea. God isn’t like that. In fact, He’s just the opposite. Our sincere cry for help rallies the forces of heaven to our rescue, and the angels throw a party when one of God’s lost sheep comes back to Him! Repentance leads to Rescue. Rescue leads to Redemption. Redemption leads to Relationship. And this relationship with God is what you and I are made for.
So, what is our selfish pride costing you and me? Is it worth it? What are we missing out on? Are we content to remain stuck in Lewis’ proverbial mud puddle, while failing to understand what is meant by God’s offer of a holiday at the beach?
Back to our Analogy: Should we complain that there was only 1 Rescuer, reject His rescue as ‘too exclusive’, and exempt ourselves from actually being rescued by Him? Or would we bear hug Him so tight that a thousand Hulks couldn’t pull us off? Those who merely want to pontificate and criticize the narrow exclusivity of the rescue, fail to understand the gravity of the situation we’re all actually in. If they had even the slightest clue, they would celebrate any rescue at all!
THE REAL QUESTION
The real question isn’t, “Is Jesus The Only Way To Heaven?” (That question totally misses the boat when you think about it). The real question is this: “Given our self-made sea of sin, why is there ANY way to heaven for us? And why did Jesus rescue us at all?” Maybe it’s time to stop playing pseudo-intellectual games and quit pretending/demanding there are many Rescuers. (Hint: there aren’t). Instead, maybe we start doing back flips because The Rescuer has us, loves us, and we don’t have to drown!
In a survival situation, there’s no time or tolerance for pseudo intellectual garbage. There’s only time and focused energy for that which will save you. The survival situation has a way of purging away the trivial so only the most important remains. There’s something about those life and death moments, hairy encounters with our own mortality, that sobers our perspective and crystallizes what’s really important, as nothing else can. It’s ride or die, and we know it. If you’ve never been in a survival situation, you may not get it. If you have, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’ve never heard, this is the epic good news of The Bible! Our situation was completely and hopelessly dire. Let that sink in ... for real.
JESUS, THE CHRIST
But...then came Jesus...The Heroic Rescuer!
And He changes everything!
Maybe we need to be woke to our actual condition in order to understand and really appreciate who Jesus is, what He saves us from, and His immeasurable love for you and me! Let’s stop complaining and start celebrating that Jesus loves you and I too much to let us drown in our own sea of sin! That’s astounding good news! He is Our Rescuer, and whatever darkness and sin we’re guilty of, His love is bigger, engulfing, and relentless. Check out the full story in the book of John in The Bible. It’ll blow your mind. He changes everything! Share Him with others. Find a loving, healthy, Bible-believing church that points you to The Rescuer. Cue the back flips!
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