On days like this, i always wonder: what makes this narrative of the “savior of the world” so compelling? Is HaShem’s arm shortened, that he could not set His creation up with the right balance of mercy and judgement, that He needs an “intermediary” to appease His anger?
The “redeemer” concept is so gripping because it touches a powerful archetype: the knight in shining armor riding in, saving the day, slaying the Gordian Knot with his sharp sword. We pine for this redemption, for things to become simple.
Yet often i found, as a “Christian”, and no less now, that life is still intertwined, challenges and struggles still manifold, and victory rather conceptual, claimed, and when achieved, laid at the feet of this G•D-man Jesus.
Why can we not simply believe that we are to apply our souls to this messy life to the best of our abilities and vigor (Ecc 9:10), and that this is precisely what we came to this earth for, and that it will suffice?
Why the circuitous “i am a wretched sinner who can do nothing, but i have been saved, and now i work out my salvation with fear and trembling”? Quintessentially, there is John Piper’s “justification by faith alone apart from works of man” in conjunction with “the need for the active and inevitable perseverance of the believer in faith, sanctification, and enduring sufferings, which he believes is evidence of G•d’s saving grace.”
Our works do matter, it’s not all filthy rags (a terrible misinterpretation of Isaiah), yet paradoxically, they supposedly only matter as part of our total depravity, dependence and abjection. Do we not insult our maker twofold, firstly by professing our own utter uselessness (despite being created in the image of G•d mind you), and secondly by laying all achievement at the feet of a man (who happened to get deified – regarded as divine – by his followers)?
Is it not enough that HaShem’s mercy is new every morning? That he will judge all the world righteously, and that we can help restore the balance with our efforts? That festivals like Yom HaKippurim and Chanukah already provide specific auspicious times for repentance and renewal? That without the struggle, there can be no success, and thus earnest endeavor is our noblest pursuit?
The whole creation is utterly dependent on its Creator moment-on-moment already. None of us have any existence, life or individuality apart from Him. Happy post-Chanukah winter solstice period. Do your best, nothing more is asked of you. No re-labelling, no re-allocating. All glory to Him alone.