The blogging bug has fully infected me now. Today I feel as manic as ever, and everything is up for grist for the blogging mill. Like the pleasant young man who sat at the next computer to me at the library today. I’d seen him before, a quiet, polite fellow with blue eyes, dark hair and fair skin. As I stood up to put on my coat before the library closed, I glanced over at his screen. It showed a Youtube video with a man’s name and the title was about Deliverance in three easy steps or something to that effect. Because I am in a good, manic mood today, I bravely spoke to him. ‘So, you are learning about deliverance, huh?’ in English, (since I am no longer pretending that I can actually speak Danish, and figure just about everyone under 55 speaks English anyway) to which he smiled and responded, ‘yes, it is something important in Christianity,’ as if I had just stepped off the boat from a faraway, non-Christian world and had never heard of the concept.
‘Uh huh,’ I agreed. ‘It sure is.’ He said, ‘yes, I am interested in learning more about it. And this man,’ he pointed to the man on the Youtube, ‘knows a whole lot about it.’ ‘Oh, okay,’ I said. After a slight pause, my curiosity got the better of me. ‘Where do you come from?’ I asked, assuming it was a foreign country where people looked like him. I had figured Israel, actually. ‘Oh, I am Danish,’ he replied with a smile. ‘Where do you come from?’ ‘I come from America,’ I said with a little embarrassed laugh. ‘Yeah, I could tell by your accent,’ he answered, still smiling. I gathered my things and made ready to leave. ‘Well, good luck with that,’ I nodded at his screen. ‘See you next time, bye.’ He murmured, ‘yeah, bye.’
Walking, nearly skipping home in my newly found hyper-manic mood, I pondered the young man and his interest in deliverance. My soul being in a more or less utterly existential mood these days, I had to ask the question, as you, Dear Readers, may also be wondering, What, or whom, is a person to be delivered to, or from, exactly?
A deeply philosophical question, to be sure. I suppose that the Christians and theologians in the crowd would be able to toss off a short answer, enough to possibly satisfy those parishioners on Sunday, at least. But for those of us possessing a more ponderous nature, let’s take a few minutes to consider what it means ‘to be delivered.’ The first thing that comes to my mind in this context (as opposed to delivering a baby or a package, for example) has something to do with the words most everyone must have lurking somewhere in the back of their minds from childhood or somewhere, the famous words of the Lord’s prayer. Here is the prayer:
Our father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever. Amen.
According to this prayer, we are asking God to deliver us from evil. Is this what is meant by the Christian concept of Deliverance? Are there other words we could use instead, to help understand this weighty concept? I looked to that wonderful resource, Wikipedia for some help. Here I found this painting by Raphael, The Deliverance of Peter. (this is one section of the painting, which is much larger.)
and this brief explanation:
Acts 12:3–19 tells how Peterwas put into prison by King Herod, but the night before his trial an angel appeared to him, and told him to leave. Peter’s chains fell off, and he followed the angel out of prison, thinking it was a vision (verse 9). The prison doors opened of their own accord, and the angel led Peter into the city.
According to this, we can see that another word for ‘Deliverance’ is Rescue. The internet dictionary elucidates more, it states that Deliverance is: ‘Salvation, Liberation. The act of setting free, in spiritual or physical senses.’ Now we have a bigger choice of concepts to help us find out what it means ‘to be delivered.’
The young man at the library was correct in stating that deliverance is a big concept in Christianity. More or less central, in fact. We have probably all been walking in the park or street and were stopped by a smiling, friendly person with the burning question on their lips: ‘Have you been saved?’ You guessed it, they were asking about our deliverance. But still the question remains, Delivered to Whom, to Where, to What? One could answer, to Our Lord, if one is strictly Christian. But it seems worth pondering just a little bit more, for those of us who adhere to a more Buddhistic outlook on life. If we go back to the words of the prayer, ‘Deliver us from evil,’ what are we really praying for?
To be delivered from our own ignorance and the suffering caused by that ignorance. To be saved from the bondage of our own minds with its false assumptions, self-righteousness and judgements. To be saved from making mistake after terrible mistake, hurting those we love, hurting ourselves. To be rescued from falling prey to those who would use and abuse us, those who do not see our worth, those who do not respect or love us. To be delivered from pain of all kinds, physical, emotional, mental and soulful. To be released from the mental or emotional constraints which we wear like a second skin when we are miserable. In short, we are delivered when we can find freedom in our soul. For some people, this means death. I think that many, or even most, people believe they cannot become truly free until they are no longer in a physical body. Certainly the Christian faith supports this theory and is based on everlasting life, after physical life. But. The Buddhists and Hindus, for example, certainly hold the hope that Freedom can be had during this earthly existence. So deliverance, or being saved or liberated, is possible in this lifetime, right now.
No matter what you may or may not believe, it seems worthwhile to ponder the idea of Deliverance, Liberation, and Salvation once in a while. I will come back to it again another day. Today, it is enough to have met one other human being who also ponders such things. To the nice man in the library I am grateful, even if I am not, at least as far as I know, Saved.