I recently wrote in response to a quote from John MacArthur where he suggested that husbands are in effect their wife’s saviour, rescuing them from loneliness, a lack of care and protection and unfulfilled potential in terms of children.
Of course, when MacArthur talked about husbands as saviours, he wasn’t intending us to think that they are capital “S” Saviours, that I am The Saviour of my wife, delivering her from sin and judgement into eternal life. Yet, I still argued that there was a danger in that kind of thinking and language. In the specific case of husbands and wives, there is indeed I believe the danger that a particular view of a nuclear family can become idolatrous, that we place it onto such a pedestal that we worship it, that to depart from the norm is seen as rebellious and requiring atonement, that we look to marriage and family to meet our deepest desires and fulfil our needs. In that sense, I might want to consider the risk that the husband as saviour does get worryingly close to putting himself in the place of The Saviour.
However, I would want to suggest that even if we don’t get quite to that point, that we do well generally (including in other circumstances) to avoid applying saviour language to ourselves. You see, most of us, if we are honest, need regular reminders that we are not called to be other people’s saviours. We are called to point them to the one who saves. I need regular reminders that I’m not their saviour, I’m not your saviour.
This doesn’t mean that there won’t be times when you or I are called to help someone and there might be a sense in which we did save them from a particular danger. Similarly, I believe that God works through some of us time to time to heal people but I’d hold back from labelling individuals as “healers”. Or to give another, example, I’ve shared how when depression came to viist, I realised that I’d spent so much time and energy tring to absorb conflict, placate different sides and to mediate. I’d become the mediator but that role was already taken. I’d taken on something that belonged to Jesus and it crushed me. Does this mean that Christians aren’t called sometimes to mediate? Of course not. However, the language we use and how we think about ourselves and our role is important.
So, exactly because of the temptation that we have to take on the burden of being other people’s saviours, exactly because that burden will crush, is why I need that daily reminder that I’m not your saviour. Christ is.