The name Jesus is derived from the Hebrew Yeshu which means to deliver, to rescue, to save. It’s good to ask ourselves: what does Jesus save us from?
The short answer might be sin or death. But I have found those two words a bit too general and vague. It can be more helpful to specify the kinds of bad habits, attitudes, addictions, or shortcomings we need saving from.
Over the years I have regularly reflected on this question. Today I’ll share six things I periodically need saving from. (I assure you there are more.)
What do I need Jesus to save me from?
+ From thinking I know it all. If I think I know it all, I am wrong, of course, for no one knows it all. I am also proud and I might even become bossy or domineering. Thinking I know it all leaves no room for wonder, for learning, for growth. Remember, some of the Pharisees knew it all. And Jesus had a really, really hard time with them. Why? Because they were not open to his message of hope and salvation. (A corollary to thinking I know it all is thinking I am always right.)
+ From haste. Speed is not bad. Fire engines speed. Good computers are fast. If you’re in pain, you want quick relief. But if we have the habit of racing through life, we miss out on a lot of good things that an ordinary human life has to offer. In our haste, we don’t really meet the people we see each day. Sometimes we may even push them aside in our rush to get somewhere. Haste also breeds superficiality. If we’re constantly running around, we miss the deeper goodness and more subtle beauties of everyday life. We have to slow down or (better yet) we have to stop to enjoy such things as a child’s hug, a whiff of honeysuckle, a sip of cold beer on a hot summer day, or the sight of a reddish-yellowish- orangish-purplish sunset.
+ From violence. If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably not an overtly violent person. But just because we don’t go around setting houses on fire, doesn’t mean we don’t commit subtle acts of violence. We can do violence by our tone of voice, by spreading gossip, by giving someone the silent treatment, by rolling our eyes when another speaks, by hogging a conversation, or by remaining silent when we should speak out. We even do violence to ourselves by succumbing to perfectionism or workaholism.
+ From cynicism. A cynic is someone who believes a better world is not possible. The cynic’s mantras are: “What’s the use?… It’ll never work…Nothing ever changes… People are inherently selfish… Give up already…” As someone remarked, a cynic is a person who is “prematurely disappointed in the future.” Jesus saves us from cynicism by his words such as, “The Kingdom of God is in your midst.” And by his promises such as: “Fear not, little flock… I call you friends… My peace I give to you… I will be with you always.”
From deadly seriousness. We can’t be smiling every minute. Some events and certain days demand sadness and even tears. Yet, we musn’t forget that our Christian faith is essentially Good News. The fact that Jesus saves lies at the heart of that good news. If we truly believe Jesus’ life and teachings, we will be essentially happy and upbeat people. We owe it to one another to maintain a good sense of humor—no matter what. Outsiders said of the early Christian community, “Look how they love one another.” And that’s great! I wish they also could have said, “Look how they laugh together on a regular basis!” (I have a hunch they did say this!)
+ From giving up my daily prayer. I’ve come up with three good reasons to give up my daily prayer: 1) I don’t have the time, 2) I don’t know what to say, 3) nothing happens anyway. Maybe you can come up with a few more reasons. But when I am tempted to give up praying, I always remember what the Trappist monk Thomas Merton said about prayer: it is “our daily appointment with Mystery.” That’s one appointment I want to keep! Then there’s the writer Jane Ubertino’s words, “We don’t pray to be effective. We pray because God is God and we are we, and therefore that meeting is the most important thing in our life.”
So, there you have it. Six things I periodically need Jesus to save me from. What about you?
Do you share any of these same things with me?
What other thing(s) would you add to this list?
PS: Last I heard, we have 32 people signed up to make that Zoom retreat July 13-19, sponsored by King’s House Retreat Center in Belleville, IL. I hope some of those participants are some of you!
Our song today is titled “Jesus Saves.” It is written and sung by Jeremy Camp.
I invite you to respond below to this reflection, video, or other readers’ responses. Thank you!