Did you know the world has already been saved? I know we love superhero movies that show a mere mortal with a touch of supernatural powers saving the world over and over again from evil enemies and innumerable threats, but the truth is we have already experienced a saving of the world. Part of me believes the reason society is so fascinated by the idea of superheroes is because deep down, whether religious or agnostic or atheistic, people desire a Savior. We desire the experience of being saved from what feels beyond our control. Whether we need to be saved from ourselves or outside forces, there seems to be a consensus that we want and need a hero. People need someone inherently good to believe in. People want to be saved.
What so many can’t or won’t seem to accept is that Jesus truly saved the world. His divine death was exponentially more powerful than the sum total of every heroic action taken by every superhero combined in all the Marvel or DC comic books. His death was a temporary forfeiting of His kingly divinity to become a human, equal to us in every way except for sin. He conquered every human temptation and lived among us showing us that through Him life could be lived an entirely different way than creation had come to believe post-Garden of Eden. He willingly gave up his mortal life to pay the price that could be paid by God alone to reconcile humanity back to freedom, wholeness, joy, and love. His sacrifice recalled humanity’s return to the beginning of the story…the way He always intended it. And just like He intended it from Eden, He then left it up to us to accept or reject the fact that He saved us, loves us, and gives us this life. He leaves us still with the choice to eat from the Tree of Life (Himself) or the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (sin and death). We choose.
But here’s the best part: You don’t have to save the world!
You heard it here first, folks! You DON’T have to save the world! It’s not on your shoulders to be the hero! It’s not up to you to save the soul of any person. Because the real Savior entered our midst and did what was only possible for the truly Divine to do, it relinquished that impossible burden from our shoulders. It has already been done!
I find this truth is particularly difficult for people with a strong bent toward justice (and most Christians in general) to remember and accept. Many of them carry a hero-complex. They carry this unnecessary sense of responsibility that it is still up to them to save the world (or at the very least a segment of the world). That, while Jesus did a lot, it is still on their shoulders to carry the saving torch forward. And while it is noble to want to change the world in a positive way such as freeing the oppressed, ending world hunger, saving the planet, or leaving some sort of lasting positive impact, one can only live such noble goals out successfully in light of what was done fully by Jesus. The minute you adopt a savior-complex and believe you are the answer to any of the world’s problems that is when you are on shaky ground.
DISCLAIMER: Before I continue it is important that you hear what I am NOT saying. I am not saying that you should not pursue noble world changing goals. I am not saying that you do not have real answers to some of the worlds problems. I am not saying that you sharing your skills, talents, intellect, or ability is you trying to “save the world”. I am not saying you should hide yourself away. I am not saying that you should live below your capabilities and potential. I am not saying people who choose certain careers have an unhealthy need to save people. And I am not saying that if you pursue great things in your life it is because you have a god-complex.
Okay, I’m glad we got that cleared up.
The reality is you cannot save yourself, let alone anyone else. If it were possible for humanity to have saved themselves they would have worked out a way to do so far before Jesus came and lived amongst us. To be fair, they did try. Humans for thousands of years created systems, structures, authorities, guidelines, and rules upon rules, to try to create a world that felt “saved”. It is a tale nearly as old as time. Humans have desperately tried to save themselves through some form or another and wound up empty or worse off every time.
Some people try to save themselves through discipline, work, relationships, addictions, and other sources they derive meaning from. Some people try to save others in the very same way. But if any of these methods had truly worked my belief is the world would never have needed a savior. I believe Jesus waited a good long time to come in our form on purpose. And if the world had found a way to cure their anger, hatred, sadness, sickness, inequality, loneliness, lack of meaning and general sense of being “lost” they would have found a way to and Jesus would have decided He wasn’t needed. And yet, He came. He came because the saving of ourselves was never our responsibility, nor within our realm of capability. The job was always way too far out of our depth.
Yet, humanity hates to admit it’s inadequacy. Yes, for all of what makes us incredible, powerful, intelligent, relatively unstoppable creations to watch we are still unable to save ourselves, in the spiritual sense. Always have been and always will be. That’s why watching those superhero movies still leaves you feeling a bit unsatisfied. At the end of the film you know that hero will live to fight another day. Another battle will always be just around the corner as the evil never seems to end and the need for more and more heros continues. And for as cool as each superhero is with their unique powers, and for as much as each of us like to try to see a bit of ourselves within those superheroes, the truth we feel gnawing inside us is that there has to be something more out there…someone more. There has to be because when we strip ourselves down bare and choose to speak without pride, we are painfully aware of our own inability to save.
Our weakness is our honor not our shame.
I snicker at the quote that says, “You already have everything you need inside of you.” If that were true, then why are so many in the world so utterly broken? If it is just a matter of “personal enlightenment” wouldn’t more than a select few people have found this place? Wouldn’t the world look differently? Wouldn’t we be the superhero we enjoy fantasizing about becoming? We simply don’t have everything we need inside of us UNLESS we have God living inside us. And even with Him inside of us it does NOT make us saviors. It makes us aware of His ability to save. It make us part of His saving plan, but not the savior Himself. He doesn’t hide Himself or His plans from us, instead He shares with us His divine nature…but He doesn’t make us God. He tasks us with living from His love and sacrifice, becoming like Him, and sharing who we are and who He is with everyone we meet until the world looks like the Garden of Eden. He’s all about the long game, and He’s designed the game to run with Him intricately interwoven inside of it and humanity doing the playing.
Humans need God. We need our Dad. We really need Him, and theres nothing wrong with admitting that and taking our capes off.
Not getting to be the hero or the savior of any segment of the world should not be sad news, it should be deeply relieving news. If we worked our way into any influential segment of society believing that we were the answer to the problems in that sphere and that we would fix all that was wrong, that god-complex will ultimately crush and destroy us. (Remember Lucifer?) But when we believe in the truth that God has already done the heavy lifting and we live from a place of rest within our identity as His children, then if He elevates us into places of influence (notice the purposeful shift in speech there) we will live from a place of dependence on Him and an awareness of how much we need His leadership in that place. That doesn’t mean that we relinquish any sense of ownership over our lives and decisions and blame God for everything that goes wrong or right, but it means that we live interdependently with God, accepting and honoring in humility our role in His grand design for humanity.
We get to live knowing the Savior of the World personally and get the help, wisdom, and favor that come from knowing Someone so great. The human ego may not like the fact it isn’t the main character or that it doesn’t get to be the larger-than-life hero of the story, but God designed life that no man or woman would ever have to bare so great a level of burden and responsibility. It may seem incredible, noble, and deeply satisfying to say you saved the world or any portion of it, but humans are simply not equipped to handle the credit or the blame from things so great.
I believe those who know God the deepest ought to have the loftiest and biggest dreams to make the world a better place! They should operate in every realm of influence. But the most important things to ask yourself before dedicating your life to such endeavors is: What are my motivations to go in this direction? What is God saying about this? Who am I if I’m not doing something “important” or trying to save the world? Does God need me to do this? Have I fully embraced the truth of what Jesus has already done? Is pride, fear, competition or insecurity at the root of any of my pursuits?
God wants partners not competitors! He doesn’t need you to try to save the world that He already saved. And you don’t need to waste any time or passion on trying to be someone He never designed or intended you to be. You do not have to save the world. Rest! Relax! Give yourself to doing as much good as your heart desires. Help people always and as much as you’re able. Love yourself well and pour your life out to make the world a more loving place. But always remember that the greatest work of saving has already been done. Jesus is the hero. He was the hero so that you do not have to be. Trust His infinite wisdom that it was always meant to be this way and that your life is truly at its best when lived accepting the freedom of not needing to be savior.
I bless your process,