Column: Getting out of our own way
“We have met the enemy, and he is us.” – Pogo, 1970, comic strip by Walt Kelly
God gives us a free gift of salvation and all we have to do is accept it.
Why then does the world spend so much intellectual, spiritual, cultural and functional energy trying to ignore, demean, disprove, limit, compartmentalize and ridicule the gift? Jesus is the only way up and out and the fallen world refuses the help.
You’d think we’d be smarter partners in this great drama of salvation in Christ. It’s beyond any “deal” we can barter, and it’s there for the taking. People instead focus on the temptations of the world tangled in an awful, doomed negotiation against death.
What, after all, even is salvation? It’s hard to crave something we don’t understand, and to believe something we can’t explain. Salvation, as I read the Bible, isn’t about me getting what I want; it’s about embracing with living, loving, implacable faith that the world’s greatest truth is giving God what He wants. And what God wants is for His image in Creation – man – to worship His son Jesus Christ.
What trips us up is insisting salvation is about “me” – insisting I am owed a logical, empirical, un-mystical explanation of God, Jesus, salvation, the Spirit, the church, the Bible, baptism and communion – one I can then explain to others so they won’t laugh at me when I say I am born again in Christ Jesus. I want salvation that doesn’t involve my actual, direct, sacrificial involvement or pain in carrying the cross of Christ. I want an explanation that serves my worldly needs and gives me elevated worldly status.
What I want, then, is the same damning false bargain Satan offered to Adam and Eve: the black market, self-centered glory Satan steals from God.
That’s a gift God isn’t offering.
Our salvation is about God’s glory, not our worldly comforts and social status. If our eyes truly are on the prize, we must understand that the prize truly is God’s glory. That’s the path to understanding Jesus’ admonition to be humble and to serve others for God’s glory. Christianity’s authority comes from service, its greatness from self-giving, and its power from God’s love. Those are the necessary tools for meeting Christ and honoring the glory of God.
There is no shortage of religion in the world, but welcoming Satan into our life – instead of Jesus – very definitely creates a blockage of service, self-giving and love.
Only with Christ can we follow God’s path and get out of our own way.
Walters (firstname.lastname@example.org) looked it up … the Pogo quote originally appeared in a 1970 anti-pollution poster Kelly drew for the first Earth Day.