I am not the savior of the world. I know you are shocked by this statement. I am currently waiting for the news crews to show up on my lawn with their trucks and cameras. “Michelle Gunnin has just made the startling announcement that she is not the savior of the world. Whatever will we do now? How will the world survive such momentous news?” I know you will be undone by this radical thought, but I couldn’t keep from you any longer. After years of trying, I have given up on the idea that it is my job to save the world.
Nor is it my job to save my children, or my husband, or my friends, or my students, or my co-workers, or my neighbors. I can see that you are squirming a bit with that last part. It’s probably because you have been taught that it is indeed our job as Christians to save the world. Maybe not the WHOLE world…but surely our little corner of it. I can invite my neighbors over and tell them the good news. I can steer the conversation with my waitress and share with her, right? Isn’t that what being a good Christian means…inserting Jesus into every conversation? Making sure we take our kids to church every time the doors are open? Reminding our spouses repeatedly that they are the leaders of our families, so they will lead like we…I mean God… wants them to? Isn’t that it? We have staked our lives on this idea. Isn’t that what we are to be all about?
My answer is no. That is a messiah complex. That is the idea that it is up to me to save them all…that my beliefs and spirituality are superior to anyone else’s because I have the direct line to God and I know exactly how to interpret every scripture. Therefore, if you do not see things my way you are in need of saving. The problem is that that kind of arrogance isn’t very inviting. The superiority mindset puts people off. (Ask the Pharisees about that.) It turns folks into projects rather than people. And in reality, if you look at the life of Jesus, he didn’t have a messiah complex…even though he actually WAS the messiah. He was pretty radical the way he loved people without condition. His followers kept trying to put him in a box, and he kept jumping out of it. Dine with tax collectors and prostitutes? Sure. Heal people on the Sabbath? Yep. Love people of all tribes and nations? Yes. Rescue anyone who asked? Yesiree.
You can see the minds of his followers being blown at every step and the wrestling with what they had always known vs. seeing what was now in front of them. The more I get to know him, the more I am like that. Thinking to myself, “You say to love everyone…but do you really mean EVERYONE? I mean that is not how it is done Lord. Don’t you know that?” And then there come other questions from his followers… but Lord, when will you take over the government? Who of us will sit at your right hand and left hand when you do? The fact is they had no clue. Even until the end, they thought they knew what was happening and when he laid himself down for them, they were totally confused because it didn’t fit their picture or expectations. They scattered because they thought he had abandoned them and they were scared. He brought his kingdom in the opposite way than they thought… through brokenness and death. They had no frame of reference for that.
The Pharisees also had their own views. They wanted him to follow the religious laws and they tried so very hard to pin him down. But that was like trying to pin down the wind. I have been both a Pharisee and a follower. I have wanted him to do things by the rules and to elevate me as a rule-keeper…until I broke the rules, and then I was so very grateful that he had abolished them. After my breaking, I was grateful just to be included as a follower. It amazes me still. I have watched him love people, but I have hesitated to do so myself. I have done what I thought he was doing; only to find myself confused when he showed me my true motives were nowhere close to love. Honestly, it is like trying to catch the wind to follow him.
I think we are so goal oriented in our culture that we do not see him sometimes because our goals are so large. We want to stop sex trafficking, or solve the homeless problem, or find every orphan a home. These are all worthy issues that need to be addressed and eradicated. They are all battles worth fighting. But they are all God-sized problems. What I mean by that is that in our human effort they cannot be eliminated. When one orphan is adopted, 5 more are made by war, or disease. When one girl is rescued from the streets, another one takes her place. When I was in Thailand I realized this and I was overwhelmed by the hopelessness of the situation. “Oh God, what can I even do that would make a difference? Why even try…the problem is too big for me to do anything about.” And in that moment he spoke to me… “Yes! You are finally getting it! It IS too big for you…but not for me. That is why it is not your job to fix it. It is your job to love where you are. Look around you. Love them. Care about them. Show them my heart.”
That is such a different way of thinking that it blows my mind. But then he is always blowing my mind. It is why I love him so…he never leaves me where I am. If I listen he is constantly showing me his heart and how radically different it is to human ways. Discerning the difference between my heart and his shouldn’t be so hard, because they are worlds apart. Yet, with my tiny viewpoint, and my tiny mindset I think I know him…only to find that he is the opposite of me. I cannot even see my own heart without him. And when he shows me in his gentle way, I am flabbergasted at the smallness of it. My comfort zone is a minuscule place. I am sure he doesn’t have to take everyone to Thailand to see the brokenness of the world, but he did me. I am sure others can look around them and see heartache is alive and well in America, but for me it took going elsewhere to realize that no politician has the answers. No non-profit can fix the issues. No religious organization, church or otherwise, can pray or meditate away the darkness that is in our world. Only God can do the work. And he will do it his way, in his time, with his heart.
The great thing about this revelation is that it sets me free. From the feeling that it is up to me. From the idea that without my involvement everything will be lost. From the thought, that if I do not witness to someone that their eternity is on my head. He never said that. NEVER. My life’s goal is not preach, or get people to church. It is to love them. Love will draw them to him. I am not the savior, I am the vehicle for his love to be transported into the places he leads me…and only because he graciously extended that kind of love to me. Everywhere I am is a place where I can love. Will I do it well? Not always. Will I be the one to draw them in? I hope not. Only he can do that. What a relief it is that I am not the savior of the world.