Powerlessness has its perks
Well-known author and speaker Tullian Tchividjian recently tweeted, “Those who struggle with believing that they are weak will also struggle with believing that God is strong.”
Tchividjian is right. If we don’t think we need a god, we certainly won’t be seeking one. And that makes this next week on the Christian calendar just a little bit interesting.
Here’s the question as we move close to Holy Week. Do we need a god, or would we rather stay the gods we are?
Few, if any of us, admit powerlessness. That just ain’t cool. Those who are decisive, persuasive, influential and commanding receive admiration. Those with opposite attributes? Well, yeah, good luck with that.
Here’s the truth. We look up to those who are kingly. (We just don’t use the word kingly.)
Speaking of kings, into the Christian Holy Week which starts this Sunday we have Jesus riding into town amid coats and palm branches waving to the shouts of “Hosanna!” And that’s weird. A champion powerhouse would charge onto the scene on a stallion, right? This rebel do-gooder arrives on a donkey that isn’t even his.
The English word “hosanna” comes from the Greek word “hosanna” which comes from a Hebrew phrase hoshiya na. This particular Hebrew phrase is found in only one place in the Old Testament, Psalm 118:25. There it means, “Save, please!”
It was a cry to God for help.
Do we cry to God for help, or do we just cry, or, specifically, do we just bellyache to God—especially when we are disappointed or life isn’t going our way? Like those lining the streets of Jerusalem on technically the first Palm Sunday, we need to ask ourselves this: do we even need a god, and, if so, who is telling this god king what needs to be done?
I don’t recommend we become (or stay on as) your own kings. Instead, I suggest we cry to God for help. Admit to powerlessness.
Powerlessness is wisdom, not weakness. Submitting to God as King isn’t an indicator of indecision; it’s the recognition of who saves and who needs to be saved.
Over the centuries, the phrase hoshiya na stopped being a cry for help in the ordinary language of the people. Instead, it became a shout of hope and exultation. From “Save, please!” it gradually came to mean, “Salvation! Salvation has come!”
Who is being saved? We are. Who are we being saved from? Ourselves.
Celebrate Palm Sunday because you need a God. Wave your branch (or white flag of surrender) to the King of Kings.
This blog first appeared in The Independent on March 21, 2018, the Wednesday before Palm Sunday.