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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Advent 17: Waiting to be rescued

We need to be rescued. That is not a very appealing thought. Despite childhood fantasies of heroes in white shining armour, the fact remains that we would all rather be the saviour rather than the saved; we would rather be the rescuer than the ones in need of rescue.

But this is what God's people, Israel, were waiting for: they were waiting for one would could rescue them from themselves; they were waiting for someone who could pull them up out of the pit where their sin had landed them. The starting point for being rescued is admitting that we are in need. I hate to do this. I don't like to confess that I can't do something, that I can't dig myself out of a hole, pull myself out of the ditch. But I can't. I cannot rescue myself. I cannot stop myself from being sinful. I cannot cure my own heart. I cannot wipe away the things I have done and said and should have done and should have said and pretend to be innocent. I cannot stand in front of a holy God and claim to have never done anything to offend.

And so, like most of us I think, I stack up the odd good deed here and there. I masquerade over my sin with attempts to like people, be kind, be generous, do better, be gooder. But, there is nothing so deceitful as the human heart. (Jeremiah 17:9) We kid ourselves into thinking that we are ok; we are the good people; we might think truly atrocious things about others but we don't act on them; we might get angry and shout and rage but we don't kill people. We might commit the odd sin, but that doesn't make us a sinner. We can still work our way up to a perfect God by trying to be a little bit more perfect.

But the very fact that Jesus needed to come defies this kind of thinking. He is the God who comes down down down into humanity knowing that we can never work our way up. He is the one who chooses to abandon heaven so that we might join him there one day. He is the one who redeems us from the mess we have made. Jesus stepped down into our darkness to bring us into his light. There was no other way. We could not rescue ourselves. We needed a rescuer.

"He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." (Colossians 1:13-14). Hallelujah.

Reflection: Let us use these words from Psalm 103 to thank God for what Jesus came to do for us:

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:1-5)

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