It often breaks our hearts to accept reality, but we can't save anybody. We can't save our brothers and sisters in Christ from unbelief, error, and a heart that's run cold. We can speak up. We can walk with them. We can encourage, judge, and absolve them, but we can't change their hearts. We can't save them, and we're not alone.
We talk a lot in church about how to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. We learn about baptism and the family of God. We hear about faith, hope, and love. But what do we take away from this faith and family talk?
We must learn something from this, right? Maybe we learn how important it is to confess the depth of our sinful enslavement. Perhaps we learn not to hide the shallow truth about our depravity from each other. Maybe we learn to be more honest with ourselves about how much we need a Savior. Maybe we learn that as much as it stings, we can't save anybody, not even ourselves.
Sometimes we don't learn anything. Sometimes, the only thing we learn is to be afraid of ourselves, each other, and God.
This is a shame because we're all hiding our sin in plain sight. Most days, we're not okay. We're not good enough, strong enough, or "Christian" enough. We struggle with our thoughts and emotions. We lose our fights with shame and guilt. We can't combat the internal chatter. Defects seem unconquerable. Our experiences don't seem to provide enough wisdom. We're unable to weather the storms that get stirred up by our unsettled hearts. We're the polar opposite of invulnerable. Coping mechanisms don't work anymore. Memories shame us. The daily grind has ground us down.
It's heartbreaking, but it's a reality for us. Sin, struggles, and our unsettled hearts make the truth obvious; we can't save anybody, especially ourselves. But, we don't have to save anybody, especially not ourselves.
Salvation comes to us. Our Savior, Jesus, comes to us gently, riding on a donkey.
That's why salvation comes to us. Our Savior, Jesus, comes to us gently, riding on a donkey. This God of justice, who punishes evil, comes as beggar-king, born of flesh and blood so that He can gather the sinful, struggling, unsettled children of this world to himself because he loves us.
When we fall, Jesus picks us up. When we sit in the darkness, he will be our Light. When we treat him as an enemy, he'll fight for and defend us from every evil. He covers our shame. When we are beaten and sore, he'll heal us. When we're dead, he'll give us new life. This is the good news of Advent. He comes to save us because we can't save anybody, especially not ourselves.