So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
(Hebrews 13:6 ESV)
If you are like me at all, sometimes you need some simple paradigms in a complex life to be able to live out some of the more lofty theology that is so important to the “nitty gritty” of daily life. A simple tool I use to remember the essence of the gospel is the word HELP:
- I AM HELPED – GOSPEL
Often I don’t remember enough that I am essentially a flawed person in a flawed world. I can’t be everywhere at once, I don’t have all the answers, I am not the final authority, I am not the cleverest, I am not the strongest, I am not able to dictate world events, I am not the perfect friend, I don’t have perfect friends…the list goes on and on. I am shaped by a culture that tells us me I am a perfect snowflake – I’m unique. I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky. I’ll sort me-self out because I CAN sort me-self out. It sounds good to school kids and we feel good when we say it to them…It’s just not true. The Gospel starts with the bad news that I am a broken person, living in a broken world. My resources are limited and they are never enough. The good news is that God is in control, God is all wise, God is the judge, God is all powerful, God is a perfect friend, and GOD IS MY HELPER. He hasn’t left me on my own. He is my dad, my brother, my counsellor. When I remember I am helped, I am reminded of my sin and the imperfections of the world around me. At the same time I rehearse to myself the overwhelming and humbling truth that because of Jesus living the life I should have lived and dying the death I should have died…I AM HELPED.
- WE HELP – COMMUNITY
I am also shaped by a culture of individualism. It’s my creed. I may have accepted Jesus but he’s the only one I’ll listen to. Jesus and me…or is it ME and Jesus? Jesus serves as a nice add-on for people of Western culture to get their fix of spirituality when the materialism, consumerism or atheism leaves us longing for something more. The problem is that this sort of understanding is less than the gospel. It’s not the full good news. God made us in His likeness and image. He is a Tri-unity of three persons in one God delighting in honouring, serving, loving, cherishing, and purposing together. The Father, The Son & The Spirit are a fully integrated being in community. Some theologians call the Trinity the eternal “dance,” in describing the beauty and activity of God as three in one. One of the ways we are helped by Jesus is to be saved into a community that shows and experiences Him through a life that “dances” as we help one another. We become a group of helped people helping one another by loving, speaking truth, forgiving, correcting, counselling with, serving, submitting, and honouring one another. WE HELP each other in the image of a God who is helpful to each person of Himself in love. The gospel pushes me out of my individualistic mindset to a life of looking to bless and serve others and being humbled as others bless and serve me. The life Jesus helped me to have is not a fragmented compartmentalised life where I fit other Christians into my schedule, but an integrated life, lived out of a primary posture of being in rhythm with others Jesus has called me to know and grow with. We find out what God has helped us with that can help others and we just get stuck in – WE HELP.
- THE WORLD NEEDS HELP – MISSION
This can all sound kind of cuddly and wooly, but the life of a people helped by Jesus and in helpful community is anything but a sentimental “feel good” experience. This is important. It is easy to be trapped into feeling good because “Yes, Jesus loves me,” or because we think we are the “lucky ones.” But me being happy and you being happy isn’t the end goal of being helped in the first place. The gospel reveals the character of a God who wants all kinds of towns, villages, tribes, peoples and nations to be helped by him…not just one group. God’s greater story is one about His glory being extended and His light shining in every dark corner and crevice of creation that has not heard the goodness of our helpful God. It would be morally reprehensible for a people that has received so much to consume it or take comfort in it only within our community. When we remember how God has helped us and are enjoying the help of others we naturally want to extend help to the world around us. This gets us involved in messy lives that are less than perfect, in places that are less than perfect. Being the extension of God’s helpful hands and feet is dirty work. Sin has stained every person and community and they are not what they could or should be. It is through His body that Christ helps the world and its peoples to first know Him and then begin to experience His helpful rule in their lives too. This is a big mission that is about doing good to everyone, everywhere in word and deed. Remembering THE WORLD NEEDS HELP throws us down on our knees in dependancy on God as we realise we are less than equal to the call to help everyone in our neighbourhood (let alone the whole) world see how to be helped by Jesus. But the Lord is our helper as we seek to help others…