Monday, December 25, 2023
Christmas Day - Jesus Comes to Save Us From Our Distress
In the first "Creed" movie there is a scene where the old boxer Rocky Balboa is training Apollo Creed's son Adonis in the gym. They are looking into a mirror (2:25 in the clip above). Rocky points to the young boxer and says,
"See this guy here? That's the toughest opponent you're ever going to have to face. I believe that's true in the ring, and I believe that's true in life."
It's not a stretch to say that many of my toughest battles happen in my own mind. Francis Frangipane called the human mind one of the "three battlegrounds." The apostle Paul knew about this. He instructed us to "take every thought captive," because if we don't, our thoughts will captivate us.
Neil Anderson writes of this inner battle in The Bondage Breaker. Steve Backlund shows us how to do battle against false thinking with his declarations.
A few years ago KoЯn's guitarist Brian Welch wrote an autobiography called Save Me From Myself. That was the best book I read that year, echoing a prayer I've brought before God for four decades.
When I was in seminary I was introduced to psychologist Albert Ellis's Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. The goal of REBT is to change irrational beliefs to more rational ones. Ellis's work was about the power of words and thoughts to affect feelings and behaviors. The transformative power of language was at the heart of my doctoral dissertation on metaphor theory.
Today, we have Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. "CBT aims to help people become aware of when they make negative interpretations, and of behavioral patterns which reinforce the distorted thinking. Cognitive therapy helps people to develop alternative ways of thinking and behaving which aims to reduce their psychological distress."
Jesus comes to save me from my psychological distress. From any catastrophic thinking. Thomas Merton writes:
God, "save me from myself. Save me from my own, private, poisonous urge to change everything, to act without reason, to move for movement’s sake, to unsettle everything You have ordained. Let me rest in Your will and be silent. Then the light of Your joy will warm my life. Its fire will burn in my heart and shine for your glory. This is what I live for." (Merton, A Book of Hours)
This is core to "working out my salvation with fear and trembling." (Philippians 2:12) I need to be rescued and redeemed and freed from my own self every day.
We just celebrated Christmas Day. The Son of God came in human form to save us from our sins, which include self-inflicted psychological distress. That's why the angel told Joseph to name the baby "Jesus."