An article in Tuesday’s Australian (“In this world without, we seek a saviour within”, The Australian, 9 March 2021) made this observation: “Although the significance of Jesus has been lost on most people today, a kind of saviour longing seems to endure. The Messiah is forgotten, but his archetype continues to throb at the heart of Western culture.”
The article is a review of a British TV Drama called “Fleabag”, the chronicle of a character known only as Fleabag, and her quest to become her own saviour. Interestingly (and quite disturbingly) it is a priest who is her guide on the path to self-salvation. The reviewer concludes, “Her story vindicates the authenticity maxim of our time: to your own self be true.”
While it appears that many of the changes she makes are positive ones (repairing relationships, her resurrection of a local cafe), ultimately what it amounts to is simply salvation by works. If she is to be saved, it is by her own hand. If she is to be damned, likewise it is by her own hand. She is cast back upon herself, with only her personal resources to draw upon. And at the end, Fleabag walks off accompanied by the lyrics, “I’m going to be alright”: a vague (and underwhelming) vision of a modern salvation.
Fleabag is a modern story of redemption. Our society may have rejected (and forgotten) Jesus but the need for salvation remains. This is a universal human longing. However, the modern gospel is simply, “Save yourself”. The modern gospel is not good news at all. It is a “to-do” list.
What a contrast to the Gospel of Grace, news of the best kind. The Lord of life coming in the flesh, living, dying and rising for us. The power for change comes not from within but from the resurrection life of Christ at work in us by his Spirit, making us a new creation. The future is not a vague wish, “I’m going to be alright”, but a sure and certain hope, guaranteed through the resurrection of Christ. And this hope anchors us now: “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6.19 NIV11).
Pastor | Trinity Church Brighton
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