Being Saved to Save

On Palm Sunday we attended a church with the girls that Peregrine counsels. It was a new church for all of us, and I found the pastor’s body language to be positive. He was sincere in his prayers; cared about the people in front of him. That sincerity spread to the congregation, many of whom cried when the girls shared their stories. You could see women across the church using their dupatas to cover the tears on their faces.

The director of the girls’ home gave a message about the Palm Sunday cry, “Hosanna!”1 I had long forgotten that “Hosanna” is a cry for help in Hebrew. “Save us!” we cry to the King of Glory as he enters the city, humble on the colt of a donkey. “Save us!” we cry out to the Prince of Peace.

She shared her own story of being sexually assaulted as a teen, unspeakably vulnerable in this cultural context. “Save me!” she cried from her own experience of pain and separation from others and from God. She spoke of how God’s rescue of her inspired her own willingness to serve others, and expanded the Hosanna cry from a one-step personal plea to a two-step direction for life. “We are being saved to save.”

We are being saved to save. To paraphrase Paul, if you have found anything good in your experience with God, then make his joy complete by bringing something of that goodness to the lives of others.2

Where do we believe our salvation will be found, and what do we think it will consist in? As I sat through an Easter service the next week, the limited aspirations of our political leaders passed into my mind. The ones who claim to reject money also claim that the right application of money will solve all our problems. The ones who belittle government power appear willing to do anything to acquire it. The ones who act the most distressed about violence brag about what military violence will accomplish in their hands.

We will not be saved by the proper application of violence.3 We will not be saved by the proper application of power.4 We will not be saved by the proper application of money.5 And thus we will not be saved by a vote for those who only know how to use money, power, or violence to change the world. In the book of Luke, Jesus readies himself for ministry by explicitly rejecting the wealth and power and fame of the world, temptations associated with the devil,6 and then announces his ministry through a different kind of power indeed.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”7

Jesus [“He saves”] came to those calling hosanna [“Save us!”]. He taught that a willingness to trust God for provision could replace a need to trust in accumulating our own money, a willingness to submit to God’s authority could replace a need to trust in acquiring our own power, and a willingness to place faith in God’s security could replace a need to trust in employing our own violence. And on Good Friday and Easter he culminated the rejection of those false needs in taking up His cross and surrendering all to the One who could be trusted in, even unto death.

Jesus was saved from death so that Jesus bring salvation to the rest of us.

And we are being saved so that we may extend that salvation to others.

We are being saved to save.

This safe house where many girls feel that they are being saved was in a tenuous position when I first wrote those words some years ago. It can only receive funding when being-saved people let go of their own financial concerns and allow money to flow out to anyone in need. It will only be staffed so long as being-saved people give up positions of authority in order to serve in far more humble positions with the girls. And it can only make a lasting difference if being-saved people break into the cycle of violence that brings girls here with a love greater than force.

In that Palm Sunday service, the pastor stepped up to the podium after the girls had spoken, opened his notes, took a look, then closed them again.

“I had a message prepared for Palm Sunday today. But I just want to let the testimony of our friend and these girls stand.”

He then asked someone to pray for all of us, and closed the meeting.

Footnotes:

[1] Mark 11:9-10, Matthew 21:9
[2] See Philippians 2:1-4
[3] Matthew 26:52, Romans 12:17-21 and much of the rest of the Gospel
[4] Matthew 20:25-28, Philippians 2:3-4 and much of the rest of the Gospel
[5] Matthew 6:19-24, 1 Timothy 6:7-10 and much of the rest of the Gospel
[6] Luke 4:1-12
[7] Luke 4:18-19, quoting Isaiah 61:1-2 while omitting the second line of verse 2

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