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Dave Brisbin

My Savior and My Threat

Our fears define us, make us see everything through the pain of our unmet wants and needs—or the compulsive need to hold on to what we think we already have. If we’re afraid of change, it’s because we’re invested in our status quo and see change as a threat to our powerbase. If we’re afraid of no change, we feel marginalized and oppressed, victims looking for a savior to fix our problems.

Einstein said we can’t solve problems using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. Seems obvious, but each of us is stuck trying to use conscious and unconscious tools created by our fears to fix problems also created by fear. This is really the point of Palm Sunday: when Jesus rides into Jerusalem, the people see him as either savior or threat based on their fears. But Jesus is neither and both, a true paradox, and he weeps that his people couldn’t remain in the tension of his paradox long enough to recognize what he was really bringing: the invitation to a way of seeing past their fears.

Today we would immediately say that Jesus is our savior, but can we resist the fear-based reaction to choose one side of the paradox long enough to see the deeper truth beyond the seeming contradiction? If we say Jesus is our savior, not a threat, we will miss how Jesus saves and from what. The truth of this paradox is that Jesus can’t be our savior until he’s first a threat…a threat to all our powerbases: everything we hold dear, take pride in, use to advantage. Until everything we’ve piled up in our lives out of fear is cleared out, we can’t even see what we need to be saved from.

Jesus is not riding into our lives to save us from oppression or fix our problems. He’s here to save us from the fear that keeps that oppression and those problems in place, and until we let Jesus threaten all we’ve built out of fear, he can’t save us from fear itself. The truth Jesus brings can and will make us free—by threatening everything made of fear on which we rely.

Jesus is my savior and my threat…but not necessarily in that order.


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