Does Jesus Have a Savior Complex?

Jul 22, 2020

Christians often talk about human salvation not as God’s “plan B” but as a rescue operation that God initiated even before the foundation of the world. But if that is the case, then how can we trust that God’s motives were good? Did He deliberately create a situation in which we would need saving just so He could get to swoop in to the rescue and take the credit for it? Even if He saved us from a fall, is He responsible for leaving us so close to a cliff? This week on the Ask Away podcast, join Drs. Vince and Jo Vitale as they dig into whether God truly is the hero of the story.

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Transcript



Please Note: Ask Away is produced to be heard, not read. We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio. Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.

Michael Davis: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Ask Away with Vince and Jo Vitale. I am your host, Michael Davis. What God did for us on the cross is beyond comprehension. The idea of loving us so much as to condescend himself to such an extent that he would leave heaven, come to earth, allow himself to be delivered into the hands of his creation to be persecuted and to be crucified beggars belief. It can sometimes be easy to question God's motives, because as human beings, we never cease having ulterior motives. Even our good deeds, more often than not, come with a desire to be seen as the hero. Was that a motivating factor for God? Does God actually have a hero complex? But before we get started, Jo, could you tell our listeners why they should prayerfully consider supporting RZIM?

Jo Vitale: Absolutely. Well, Ravi's vision for RZIM was always to help the thinker to believe and the believer to think. And more than ever now, that is absolutely the vision of our team to hold to those words and to be absolutely committed to that goal that Ravi was initially entrusted with by God. And the amazing thing about this team is that there are around 100 speakers based in about 15 different countries globally and all living out that vision of, not just reaching the mind, but also just helping engage with the heart as well, just really carrying on the DNA that Ravi first brought to this ministry.

So that's our vision and our commitment to share Christ, to answer people's tough questions, the questions of culture, the questions of intellect, questions about identity, but to do it in a way that always embodies a manner of gentleness and respect, and isn't arguing for the sake of arguing, but just really bringing people back to what is the heart and the message of the Christian faith? So that's our goal, that's our vision. We're doing that in all sorts of ways, both through the itinerant ministry increasingly in this season, been doing a lot online as well, lots of webinars, and Zoom calls, and live streams, and things like that, and then various podcasts going out as well, and writing pieces, and different aspects of the ministry like the RZIM Academy, and the Connect Community. So there's a lot that RZIM is doing, and we so value your prayers as we continue to be faithful to the vision that God gave to Ravi and to carry that on. But also, we value you're financial support as well. So if you do feel like God is putting it on your heart to give, we would be so grateful.

Vince Vitale: Yeah. And it's quite exciting, even as, hopefully before long, we're doing more and more in-person events again. I think the push towards the digital is not going to stop, and so many people have now realized how easy it is to do an effective digital event. And whereas in the past we might have gone in and spoken to a dozen leaders around a board table in a specific business or firm, now people are getting in touch and saying, "Hey, we want to do this digitally so that we can open it up to all of our thousands of employees and leaders across the globe." And so I think it's really going to be a both and moving forward, and it excites me for the opportunities.

Michael Davis: Excellent. If you guys would like to give, all you have to do is go to rzim.org and click give at the top of the page. Thank you. Let's get to the question. This one is from Janet. “Does God have a hero complex?” Most of us have heard stories in the news where people have created situations in which they save a person or save an animal in order to take credit for it and get gratification out of doing it. I heard Cameron McAllister say in a podcast recently that we are all sinners deserving of death. And oftentimes people ask the question, "How can I be deserving of death when I didn't create myself bound to sin the desire to disobey God? Why should God be worshiped for being our Savior when he was the one who shoved us off the cliff?"

Vince Vitale: Hey Janet, thanks for having the courage to ask this question.

Michael Davis: Yeah, that's a tough one.

Vince Vitale: Straight in, does God have a hero complex? And I appreciate you referencing Cameron McAllister as well so I could walk over to his office and have a word with him in terms of his influence in us receiving this very difficult-

Jo Vitale: Yeah, we're blaming Cameron for this question.

Vince Vitale: ...question, but we're really thankful for it. One of the things I love about it, I don't know Janet where you're coming specifically in terms of whether you're a Christian or not, but you're certainly at least putting yourself in the shoes of someone who might not know that much about Christianity. And sometimes it's just too easy for us as Christians to think, "Oh, God saved us," and just think that of course has a positive connotation. But actually, if you're in a situation where you've experienced, or you're reading in the news about someone who actually put someone in a negative circumstance so that they could then play hero, the idea of a savior or a hero doesn't always have a positive connotation.

And so there's at least two relevant categories here to your question. One is sometimes referred to as a Messiah complex, or sometimes even a Christ complex, or a savior complex. And that's that situation in which a person believes they are responsible for saving other people. And then there's a second condition, this one called Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, MSBP, and that's a mental health problem in which usually a caregiver makes up or causes an illness, or an injury in a person who's under his or her care, and often in order to then save them and get the credit for doing so. So these are not exactly the same conditions, but they're related to each other, and both of them are caught up in the question that you're asking.

Jo Vitale: Vince and I have a personal experience of a situation like this not long after we'd started dating and the first time I went to visit Vince's family in New Jersey. And Vince had just had surgery on his ACL, so he couldn't come in the ocean. And it was a red flag day, but Vince's brother Jay is a lifeguard. And so Jay was like, "Oh, I'll take Jo out into the ocean. She'll be fine with me." So we go swimming out, and it seems fine getting out onto the waves. And then we're out there just swimming around for a bit, and then Jay says, "Hey, why don't we body surf the next wave back in?" So I sort of naively am like, "Oh, Jay's the lifeguard. He knows what he's talking about." So I just follow him along.

Vince Vitale: And this is Jo's very first impression to my family. She's just shown up, first time with the family. Jay's a lifeguard. He offers to take her out. "Of course, it's safe." Of course, you want to do what the family wants.

Jo Vitale: So, I'm swimming up this wave, and I get to the top of the wave. But right when we get there, Jay realizes, actually, the waves are doubling up at the last minute, and they're actually much bigger than he'd realized. So he pulls out of the wave, but he leaves me on the top of this wave. And so I'm right there at the crest, and I suddenly looked down as it's breaking and I'm on top of it. And I think, "Oh my goodness, that is a long way down," And obviously go head over heels. I'm tumbling around under the water. I cannot find my way back up. I don't know which way is up or down. I'm running out of air.

And to be honest, my biggest concern in that moment was it was so boisterous under the water that I was worried I was going to lose my swimsuit. And so I literally remember praying that moment, "Lord, I don't mind if I die, but please don't let me wash up naked." That was my only concern.

Vince Vitale: And to be honest though, when Jo shared that with me later in the day, that was the moment where I thought, "This woman's faith is real." I thought, "If you're in that kind of situation under the water, and you're still thinking, "I'm going to pray to Jesus at that point rather than just freaking out."

Jo Vitale: Either my faith is real or I'm just way too vain. Because then finally, Jay has to then come over, and he's starting to find me. He can't find me. Vince is pointing up the beach.

Vince Vitale: So Jay pulls out at the back of this wave so he doesn't go over the top, and then I just see him come—his head comes out of the water and looks to the beach at me with this look of death in his eyes, the look of, "I just killed Vince's girlfriend." And I had just had ACL surgery on my knee, so I could see Jo, but he couldn't see her from behind where the waves were breaking. And so I couldn't go in the water. I was taking off my-

Jo Vitale: Brace.

Vince Vitale: ...knee brace in order to go in and try to save her. I would have wound up drowning because I couldn't swim having just had surgery. Finally, Jay, when he looks at me, and I just point. I go, "North, north!" and start pointing in the direction that Jo was in.

Jo Vitale: So Jay swims over and is like, "Grab on to me!" and he swims me back through the waves and onto the beach. And I stumble in a very bedraggled state with my hair full of sand up the beach, collapse on Vince.

Vince Vitale: So Janet, I promise this is relevant to your question.

Jo Vitale: It's relevant.

Vince Vitale: The relevance to your question is then Jay as a lifeguard, every opportunity he wants to count something as a save. Somebody trips over their own feet near the water's edge, and Jay goes running in, and grabs them, and pulls them up, "I got a save. I got a save." And so I remember saying to Jay after all of this had happened, I said, "Jay, don't even tell me that's a save. That does not count as a save. If you got someone into the situation in which they're now drowning under the water, it doesn't count as a save even if you pull them out." So this is the story that mine and Jo's heads went to as soon as we heard your question.

Jo Vitale: Right. Well, because it's interesting, because often Christians point to the Bible verse and we talk about the lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world, referring to Jesus Christ. When we talk about this, often Christians find comfort from it because they're saying, "It's not that things went wrong and God lost control, and then he says, 'Oh no, we need a plan B to fix this. I better step in and save them now it's gone so horribly wrong." But actually, the point of this verse is to say, "God had the foreknowledge to know that things were already going to go wrong." And so usually it's this comforting idea that even before he created us and before the fall, that God was already so committed to us, that he was willing to do whatever it would take to rescue us.

But the thing that's really fascinating about your question, Janet, is that basically it kind of raises the question, "Well, is there a sinister motivation to that verse?" It makes you wonder, "Well, hang on. If that was the plan from the first place, that the lamb would be slain before the foundation of the world, then what's God's motive here? Does He create us knowing that we would wind up in a situation where we would require rescuing?" And I think the Bible is clear that He does. And so, if that's the question, why does He do it just so He can play the hero and so everyone can swoon at how marvelous He is? Did He push us off a cliff just to rescue us?

Vince Vitale: I've heard someone use the example, "Wouldn't God then be like a father who throws his child into a river so that He can then play hero." And you might think, "Well look, God created this world, and He knew the vulnerabilities in it. So has He in a sense thrown us into this world knowing that it would break, and then when it does, we require saving?" So it's a difficult challenge, and I'm glad that you raised it. Nowadays, I'm filtering everything through my experience of having a one-year-old. And so a lot of these analogies between parents and children are a lot more concrete for me than they used to be.

And as I was thinking about this, I was realizing that actually I put my child, I put Raphael in positions that he needs saving from all the time. I do this probably dozens of times a day, every time I bring him up on the couch with me. I know he's going to at some point try to throw himself off, and I'm going to have to catch him. Every time I go outside with him for a walk, I know he's going to start sprinting down a hill where he can't keep his balance, and if I don't grab him, then he's going to face plant into the concrete.

Jo Vitale: He had his first knee graze the other day, and Vince was so proud of it, and I was literally trying not to cry. The difference in our reactions were amazing.

Vince Vitale: Yeah. Jo was completely traumatized. And I was like, "This is a significant step in his development."

Michael Davis: There'll be lots more. I promise. I think between the ages of one and three, their entire mission in life is to try to kill themselves. That's literally the kid's job.

Jo Vitale: Yeah.

Vince Vitale: Exactly.

Jo Vitale: Don't tell me that, Michael.

Vince Vitale: And that's the thing: if I want Raphael to live any free, meaningful life, I actually have no choice in the matter. If I try to shelter him and protect him so much that he would never be in a situation that I need to save him from as a one-year-old, he wouldn't have any life at all. And so the reality is that I'm doing that all the time as a parent, and that doesn't mean that I don't love him. To some extent, that's just a reality of the fact that that's how fragile he is. That's the sort of being he is in relation to me, so he consistently needs me to save him. If I'm even to give him enough freedom for him to just live a meaningful life.

And maybe there's something in there of an analogy between us and God where compared to God, we are just so fragile and so unaware of our surroundings. Yes, he wants to give us enough freedom and space to live a meaningful life, but in order to do that, he's also going to have to be prepared to save us in many ways, of course, in the ultimate way as well. But I often think even just driving down the street how often it must be the case that God may be intervening in ways, and we're just living in such a dangerous world, given the fragile beings that we are.

Jo Vitale: To me, it takes it back to the question of origins and what was God's motive for having a child in the first place, if you want to keep going with that analogy. And because when I think about what might be the reason someone would have a hero complex. And one to my mind, comes out of an idea of neediness, that you need people to pay attention to you. And the other one might be out of a self-aggrandizing, glory-seeking desire. But firstly, thinking about that thing of neediness, the thing about God's creation is, and we've said it before, but God isn't lonely. Because He's a trinity, God is love. And He is already in complete and perfect community. This isn't a Jerry Maguire situation of “you complete me; I need you,” which is the most flawed view relationships ever in my opinion, but that there is no lack in God, that he doesn't need us to fulfill something.

Vince Vitale: She just threw out Jerry Maguire in half a sentence.

Jo Vitale: I know. Honestly, I used to love that movie.

Vince Vitale: We just lost all the Jerry Maguire fans from Ask Away Podcast.

Jo Vitale: I'm sorry. No. Don't get me wrong. There were so many quotable lines in that film, but that is not one of them. Anyway.

Michael Davis: "Who's coming with me? Who's coming with me?"

Jo Vitale: There you go. And so-

Michael Davis: "You had me at hello."

Jo Vitale: Yes. Let's just stop. I can't take it anymore. So there's no lack in God. He's not driven by a neediness, that He needs our attention as if He's unfulfilled otherwise. I don't think that's what's going on here. So then the second question is, why did He make us in particular? Why these kind of beings? And this to me is where it comes to that question of, is this about glory seeking? Because if God just wanted people who are going to worship Him unfailingly without faults, just doing whatever He wants, then He could have just stuck with making other creatures. He could have just stuck with pets, like having some really cool whales. He could have made a unicorn. Who knows?

Well, I'm sure He delights and all his different and fascinating animals in creation. But why make human beings if it wasn't about making someone in his image? Now sometimes any hidden language of being made in the image of God. And that itself might sound a little self-aggrandizing. It's like, "Oh, did it go just one little mini versions of himself in some sort of vain way." It's like always looking in a mirror. But actually, I think the point here, is we're image barriers in the sense that we are uniquely made in our capacity to have relationship, to make decisions, and to morally reason. And no other creature can do that. So why did God give us that freedom?

And when I think about the idea of God being sort of glory seeking, I think actually He would've got a lot more glory if He hadn't made us free, but He chose to make us free. And so then that question is, “Why?” Why go through the headache of making us free? Is it just so that He can rescue us all the time and come off looking really good, or is there something deeper going on?

Vince Vitale: No I think it's a really good point that if God wanted to make beings from whom He would just receive the most glory, and praise, and worship, and honor, boy, that's not us-

Jo Vitale: No.

Vince Vitale: ...how imperfect we are. And in particular, you mentioned the animals and stuff that give Him glory in a sense, but He could have also just made a form of angel without freewill or something along those lines that would have just consistently praised Him in that way. So that's a really good point, Jo, that if God is looking to get something out of it, that's not necessarily us. And Jesus didn't need anything. He was in that perfect fellowship with the trinity. He didn't need any encouragement or affirmation. He didn't need anyone to tell him that he was cool. He knew he was already cool.

And in one sense, you wonder, Jesus, of course there's a sense in which he wanted to save us because we required saving, but what we get is not Jesus jumping at that just for the sake of it. It wasn't good for him. He had to come live a life of suffering. He had to sweat blood in the garden. He had to be crucified for it. This was not good for him from the perspective of a personal interest. And then I think about all of the vitriol and the abuse that he's experienced since then, every time someone's made fun of God, every time someone has tried to shame someone who believes in Jesus. Even Jesus dealing with the fact of the terrible things people say about his father or about the Holy Spirit.

It just occurred to me that he never had to have anyone take his name in vain. He never had to have anyone abuse him verbally. He never had to have anyone insult the members of his family: the Father, and the Holy Spirit. That's the situation he would have been in had he not chosen to come and be our savior. So if you're going to think about it that way and say, "Hey, well, if there's something in this for Jesus, that he was doing this for his own benefit," I just don't think the facts of the situation, given where he was, and then given what he went through, compare with that.

Jo Vitale: Right. Because when you think about a hero complex, say it's a medical doctor who makes a patient sick in order to rescue them, or it's a firefighter who sets a fire in a house so they can go and play the hero by putting the fire out. What does it mean to play the hero in those situations as you come in in this sort of triumphant victorious way, looking really strong, saving the day, everyone is giving you all the attention and the praise? But what did it mean for God to be savior? It's so costly. It's so painful. There's nothing glamorous about it. The cross is the most excruciating, and terrible, and dark, and horrible thing to have to go through. So not only do you have to accuse God of having a hero complex, you also have to say He's extremely masochistic if He's somehow getting something out of going through that kind of tremendous suffering.

And not even just Himself, but when you think about God as Trinity and what it means for the Son to die, it's not just the pain of the Son himself who's suffering as Savior, but it's also the pain of the other members of the Trinity who are losing him. It's one thing to talk about yourself being a hero and you getting something out of it. But what if you being a hero costs you the life of the person that you love most, and then going through extreme and horrendous suffering? Does that really hold together? We've talked about Raphael as our son and literally couldn't love him more, have boundless love for him, and what it took to rescue somebody else was for us to have to accept and stand by while Raphael willingly sacrifice his own life and letting that happen. When you think about having to stand back and allow that to happen and how much that costs you, given how much God loves his one and only Son, that speaks volumes about how much God must also love us to go through that.

Vince Vitale: The other thing about this phrase, “Messiah complex,” is that, by definition, you can't actually have one, unless you are not the Messiah. If you are Messiah, then you just believe the truth about yourself. Then it's not a complex. Then it's reality. So the other thing I really like about your question, Janet, is that it pushes us back to key claims about the gospel; it pushes us back to two key questions. Do we actually require saving? And then, is Jesus capable of saving us? If the answer to those two questions is yes, then Jesus actually is the Messiah, and then it can't be that it's a Messiah complex, because it's actually reality that he is the Messiah. And there's nothing wrong with saving someone when they require saving. When someone actually does save your life and you turn to them and you say, "You saved my life." There's nothing more significant and honoring that you can say to a person than that.

So there's not a problem with someone who saves someone or someone who feels it's their responsibility in a situation to save someone. We just have to go back to the questions of truth and say, "Do we actually require saving? And if so, is Jesus the one who is capable of saving us?"

Jo Vitale: I think maybe one of the questions put alongside that, which I think Janet has pointed to you when she said, "Did God shove us off a cliff in order to rescue us?" is the question of, “do we require saving because God's the one who put us in trouble in the first place?” And I think this is where maybe people get a little bit confused about the difference between a full knowledge, the idea of God knowing what would happen and God causing it. Did God know that the world would go horribly awry and it would require saving? Yes. But does that mean He's responsible for it? No. And I think that's what we see set up in the Garden of Eden, is this very conversation about freedom where actually God really desires a relationship. He wants to keep us safe. He wants to keep us close to Him.

That's kind of what the tree in the garden symbolizes, saying, "I'll give you everything. Stay with me in this garden and life will be so good. But for the sake of your freedom, you can just have this one choice. There's this tree over here. It will kill you. Please just don't eat from that tree." In other words, He's basically saying, "There's that cliff over there. Just please don't jump off it. Just stay here with me. This is where I want you to be." But we are the ones who were given that choice. We're the ones who jump off the cliff. He's the one who's actually desperately begging for us not to do so.

And actually I think when you look at it that way, you can look at it cynically and say, "Well, God knew we'd require saving and therefore, is this a hero complex?" Or you can say, "Actually, doesn't that speak even more to his love?" When we make a marriage vowel and we say for better or worse, we're committing to for worse, but we're all sort of really hoping it's going to be for better. And sometimes there's a kind of naive optimism to it where we say it not quite realizing how costly it's going to be, but that's not what happens at the beginning. God says for better or for worse already knowing just how for worst it's going to be, just what it's going to mean to be in that kind of relationship with us as human beings, that we are going to be abusive towards Him, that we are going to neglect and ignore Him, that we are going to cheat on Him, that we are going to be the people who walk out the door and just don't want to come back.

He knows all of those things, and yet He still willingly chooses to love us even knowing that this marriage is going to cost Him so much; it's going to be so painful. So does that make Him lesser as if you had a hero complex, or does that make Him so much more because He's actually saying, "I love you so much, I'm going to stick with you whatever the costs are?"

Maybe an example of this would be when, sometimes couples marry when one of them has a debilitating illness that, perhaps over time, is only going to get progressively worse and worse, and they go into the marriage knowing that, actually, at some point it's going to require them very much acting as a carer towards the other. Now, does that mean the person who is marrying them is doing so out of a savior complex? It's possible. Some people might do that. But don't we also look at that, in most cases and say, "That is an extraordinary act of love.” You love that person so much that you know it's going to be costly; you know your marriage is going to have so much sacrifice in it and a kind of pain and giving every day that a lot of people never experienced, but you're willing to do that because you love and value that person so much, that you want to show that by choosing them regardless.

Vince Vitale: So it really does go back to a matter of intention, a matter of what's in someone's heart. And as Jo's been expressing, what's in God's heart is very much love. And one of the ways that I think you can sometimes assess that when you're asking, "Does someone have a hero complex?" is how they identify themself and how quickly they look to identify themself. And I've always found it interesting that Jesus, one, his public ministry doesn't start until he's in his 30s, and then it's just interesting that it's almost until God the father really tells him, "All right. People really need to know about you now and who you are, and that needs to be clear." He's not jumping at that opportunity. There are times where he's saying, "Hey, let's not spread the news about these miracles too widely."

He's not starting out by walking around shouting about who he is and how he believes himself to be the Messiah. And I'm sure there were many people in that time who were maybe claiming to be the Messiah at different points throughout ancient history who were doing just that. And even think about Jesus, "If it's possible, let this cup pass from me," not saying, "I'm just jumping at the chance to be the one who plays this savior role.” But, “You know what? If it's possible for it not to go this way, let's not do it this way. This seems terrible. But not my will, but your will be done.”

And then even in that “as well,” I think we see something which is so different from a savior complex, to be submitting to the will of his Father, the opposite of a narcissism where you have to have your way and you have to be the one directing everything. But Jesus was consistently, humbly retreating, praying, discerning with his Father, and wanting to be in the will of his Father, and take direction, and submit to another. So all of that, when you just look at the way that Jesus lived his life and the way that he engaged with his Father and with other people, none of it to me strikes of what you would expect when you think of someone who has a hero complex.

Jo Vitale: And I think maybe the reason we raise this question or can struggle with it is because it's much more comfortable for us to think of God as having a savior complex than it is for us to perhaps accept we have a victim mentality. I just wonder if there's this desire in us that we don't want it to be a fault. So we want it to somehow be the case that God put us in this mess and this situation. So if we need saving, it's because He did it to us, not because we've done it to ourselves." I'm not going to talk about the role of original sin and human responsibility, just because we've done that on other Ask Away episodes, except to say that I don't think the fact that we're all skewed towards sin because of the nature that we're born with, removes the fact that we're also responsible for decisions we make about the ways that we live frequently throughout the day. I do things that I willingly know are going to be harmful to others, to myself, and to God.

And I don't do them because I'm under some sort of compulsion. I do them knowing I shouldn't, and I do it anyway. I know full well there are many things in which I am responsible for. And yet, sometimes if we turn it around and we want to then blame God for it, it reminds me of sometimes here in abusive relationships where someone could do something horrendous to somebody, and then they turn around and lash out at them and say, "Look what you made me do. Look what you made me do," as if it were their fault. But that's not the case here. God didn't push us off a cliff. He didn't make us do anything. The only thing He made us for is for love. We are the ones who jumped, and we keep jumping. And the only thing God does in that situation, is He jumps after us. And it's because of the way that He's broken by that fall and that we are able to be saved, even though we fell off the cliff.

Vince Vitale: Yeah, that's good. And if I could just remind us of one other point as well. In this sort of example where the parent throws the child into the river so that they can play hero, one of the reasons that we know there's a problem there is because the child would have existed anyway; the child already existed, and then the parent shows within that existence of the child to throw them into a river, a dangerous situation, and then to play hero. This is another respect in which this is different in God's case. And if you listen to this podcast, you'll have heard me say this before and make a case for it, but if God had created the very different world which was not vulnerable to suffering, that we sometimes think we wish that He would have made, I don't think any of us would have existed.

That would have been such a different world. Would it really have been you, or me, or the people that we love who would have existed in that world? So it's not a situation where we exist anyway and that God puts us in a dangerous situation so that he can then save us from it, but that our existence itself is in some way tied to the fact that we came to exist in a dangerous place. But God loved us so much that He desired for us to exist, and He was willing to come and save us and invite us into eternal life from Him. So that's a really significant difference in the examples as well.

Michael Davis: Yeah. It is funny, because my kid always jumps off the couch onto the floor and hurts himself. So sometimes I'm able to catch him, but for the most part-

Vince Vitale: Yeah. And I was thinking about it as a parent. This is a really relevant question. Sometimes the question seems so philosophical and abstract, but it is relevant. I bring Raphael up onto the couch all the time just to play with him, but then I need to be ready to grab him and to save him from hitting the ground. But then I'm realizing as I get older, there will be some temptations to play hero at times, wanting to look cool in front of your children. I can imagine Raphael becoming a teenager and, "Drive faster Daddy! Drive faster!" and wanting to fly right through the speed limit so that he can be like, "Oh my Dad's the coolest. He drove a hundred miles an hour with me." And that would be a situation like this where actually I'm putting him in a dangerous situation so that I can then be the one who gets called the hero. And so it's amazing how sometimes we're really quick to look at God and criticize him for things, but we can turn it around and realize these are really relevant questions for ourselves as well.

Jo Vitale: That is never happening...Ever.

Michael Davis: Vince-

Vince Vitale: I-

Michael Davis: ...here's a rule about being a dad: there's dad law. And the rule that underpins dad law is you never tell mom, and you make sure your kids never tell mom. And that's how you can deal with dad law.

Vince Vitale: Dad law is grounded on mom law, yeah.

Jo Vitale: We'll talk about that next week.

Michael Davis: Fair enough. Fair enough.

Jo Vitale: Boy, we were doing so well. If I just didn't bring up that example, we could have ended this episode in peace.

Michael Davis: Well, bring it back to the topic. Vince, we're out of a time. Why don't you sum it up for us?

Vince Vitale: Okay, sure. Well, Janet, thanks. You can see that we've enjoyed your question. We think it's a significant one. It's really relevant to the way that we think about God, and it's really relevant even to the way that we think about treating people in the context of parenting, but in other relationships as well. But I don't know exactly where this question came from, but for some people it's going to be a really personal question and a really pastoral question. I have shared on this show before that experience I had of Raphael having to have some tests done on his heart, and my job was to pin him down and to keep him still so that the test could get a good reading. But from his perspective, that would have felt like I was betraying him. I was putting him in the dangerous situation. And it could be that this question as well for some people is going to bring us back to an experience like that where we felt like, actually, God, you put me in the dangerous situation.

And so I don't care if then you're going to save me from it, I'm still resentful about the fact that you put me in it in the first place. I was just reflecting on the fact that even Jesus knows that experience. Jesus on the cross, where it felt to him like his father was pinning him there, it felt like his wrists and ankles were being pinned by his Father. And he looked in his Father's direction as if he had betrayed him, and he cried out, "Why have you forsaken me?" and he got that deafening silence. He knows even that experience of us feeling like, "God, you just put me in this difficult situation even if you are going to save me."

Jesus knows that experience, so he can relate. And yet from the other side of the grave, he can testify back to us that his Father never stopped loving him, never stopped caring for him, and had a glorious plan in mind that he was ready to enact. And so, if Jesus can testify from beyond the grave to us of that truth, then we can trust it as we consider this type of question and all we walked through in this broken world.

Michael Davis: Vince, Jo, thank you guys so much for joining me. Thank you all for listening, and we'll catch you guys next time

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