WORD FROM THE PASTOR:

Three Little Words...

Every now and then a catch-phrase seems to come out of nowhere and suddenly is on

everyone’s lips. A few years ago it was “Been there–done that”. Before that came “pushing the envelope” (originally a reference to aviation, not stationery). The current “in phrase” seems to be: “I got this.” It’s a statement of independence: I don’t need any help, I can handle this situation. It’s actually a hipper and more mature version of something we all say when we’re about two years old: “I do it myself!” It’s an expression of self-confidence and competence.

             “I got this” is supposedly a favorite saying of the President. It even turns up in the Bin Laden raid scene of “Zero Dark Thirty”, where one of the Navy SEALS speaks the words.

             What are some situations where one might say “I got this?” Here are a few:

             The bat connects with the ball; the ball soars into the air and starts to drop where right field meets center field. The right fielder waves off the center fielder and says: “I got this.”

             You ask your kid if she needs any help filling out scholarship applications. She shakes her head and assures you: “I got this.”

             You ask your neighbor if they need any help planning the big block party. “I got this,” they confidently assert.

             You see a friend trying to carry a big TV upstairs, and you offer to help. “I got this,” he says.

             Of course, when you say, “I got this”, you better got it, or you’re going to look pretty foolish. If the ball drops to the field, if the scholarship application goes unfiled, if the block party turns disastrous, if the TV bounces down the steps and shatters...then “I got this” turns from cool self-confidence to empty bravado!

             It occurred to me that, as we approach Holy Week, “I got this” are good words to meditate on. Because, in a way, that’s what Jesus is saying as He embraces the Holy Cross. He’s basically telling us: “You’re burdened and polluted with sin. And you can’t redeem yourself–you can’t save yourself. But don’t worry. I got this!”

             So He takes command of the situation, takes hold of all our sins, and bears them on the cross. They’re my sins–but He doesn’t need my help. In fact, there’s no help I can give Him. I’m paralyzed by sin–I can’t do anything to get rid of it. So He steps forward and assures me: “I got this”.

             And got this He does. “It ain’t bragging if you can do it”–and He does it! The blood He sheds on the cross purges away all my sin, so I can stand before God pure and clean.

             The idea of Jesus saying “I got this” really expresses the core of Lutheranism. Salvation is all His work, and not mine–that’s the Lutheran view. The Bible verse that best encapsulates the Lutheran vision of salvation is:

             For by grace you are saved, through faith; and this not of yourselves: it is the gift of

             God; not by works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

In this Bible verse, God is saying: “I got this”. It’s our salvation He’s talking about–but He doesn’t need our help! The forgiveness of sins and the new life that come through Jesus are His gift to me–not something I achieve on my own. He does it all, then gives it freely to me.

             Even though God basically says, “I got this” to me, I can never say it to Him. I can never say, “Lord, I have this situation under control–I don’t really need you.” Jesus tells us:

             “Without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

I need God’s help in all circumstances! Those times when I wave Him off, those times when I say to God, “I got this!”, really are times of foolish bravado. When I try to do something without God, I usually end up with the equivalent of a fly ball that turns into a double, or a TV that shatters on the steps!

             I never want to say “I got this” to the mighty God who is always there to help me:

             God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1).

In the spiritual realm, it’s always God–and never me–who says: “I got this”. “I am weak but Thou art strong,” as the old gospel song declares. There’s never a moment when I don’t need His help!

             “I got this”–our culture’s new buzz phrase. It’s fun to say, it makes us sound cool and in control, and it works nicely in all kinds of situations. (We just always have to make sure we can back it up with action!) And it also gives us some insight into our spiritual lives. I can never say those words to God. But when the Lord Jesus Christ is bearing His cross to dark Calvary, He’s really turning to a sinner like me and saying: “I got this.”

             God loves you and so do I!

 

Vol. 84 - No. 3
MARCH 2013