Do You need a savior?
Do You need a savior?
I have been struggling with this question recently. Reflecting on my understanding of Orthodox Christian teachings about sin and the fall, and that I am “deficient” and not perfect or pure enough for God, I have come to reject the notion of needing a “Savior”.
What do I mean? If we need a savior, assuming this savior is going to make all things right with God, for me and all of humanity, I have to ask myself, “What’s wrong with my relationship with God?” Does what God created, need to be perfect, and pure, to be acceptable by God? Pretty boring.
I no longer start with a relationship of deficit with God. My reading of scripture, understanding the cultural perspectives and beliefs of Biblical writers, and the terrifying and difficult times Israel endured, make it clear that these individual writers were threatened from all sides. They lived a clench-fisted life, expecting some emperor or king to be next to rush in and destroy them. They knew pain, fear, suffering, and terror that I cannot imagine.
Many verses in the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament paint a picture of Israel’s jealous god that does battle with other gods, and actively punishes Israel for its infidelity. God creates “weal and woe”, good and bad, prosperity and adversity. (Isaiah 45:5-7). Of course, with this type of God, you stand in terror. When the mentality of the day is “a god of vengeance”, you surely need a savior. You need some outside influence to plead your case to this terrifying god. I don’t accept that image of God. Don’t get me wrong, its not only the Old Testament writers who believe this but also a commonly held opinion within early Christianity. (Deuteronomy 32:35, Romans 12:19, Hebrews 10:30-31)
I don’t share those sentiments. I am not afraid of God. Is it because of Jesus? Is it because of what Jesus teaches? Yes, but also my experience which I value, science which I respect, modern psychology which explains some of the workings of the mind, contemplative faith traditions, exposing me to a new way to be in relationship with God, and an historical perspective that allows me to review thousands of years of humanity. Together, all these factors express a different reality for me. I do not share the realities of Biblical writers but choose to build upon them. I don’t want to eliminate their voices, they help me see how different I am, and how faith has evolved. The Biblical voices are not the end game for me, they are the beginning of the discussion.
My relationship with God is Fine! It doesn’t start out with a “deficiency” that needs to be bridged. I do not hold to a jealous or angry God. My relationship with God is based on Love and Grace, which Jesus taught. A savior or a crucifixion is not necessary in making my relationship with God “right”.
If I need a savior, it’s a savior that teaches me how to love God and my neighbor, in this life! I don’t need a savior for security in the afterlife, I need a savior, Jesus, who points me to fully live into my relationship with God. I need a savior to save me from my EGO and teach me what it means to love my neighbor . God’s not the problem, I am. I am, especially when my theology begins with a “deficit”. That’s not the God I believe in. The God I believe in doesn’t require a savior.