“Why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”
The strange thing about the above statement, is how illogical it seems. The reason we pick ourselves up, is because we have fallen; how can we fall to learn to pick ourselves up? Wouldn’t this make both pointless?
But this thinking misses the real point: that picking ourselves up is more important than simply rising. The meaning of picking ourselves up, is greater than merely regaining height, and undoing the fall. Picking ourselves up, is an act that gives a man dignity. It is an act that declares man’s true nature, in rejecting the lowly nature thrust upon him. (Strange how this truth is hidden away in a Batman quote)
In this line of thought, a slave who rebels against his master may be expressing a greater freedom than a rich man who has had an easy freedom his whole life. The Christian life, as conceived at its beginning, was a difficult life of overcoming the world and bearing our crosses daily. In this, they saw true freedom (Philippians 1:20).
I believe we truly find our greatest dignity in helping others. In this, we pick ourselves up from selfishness, to our own dignity, and offer a hand to help others up in whatever way they may need.
And being helped up doesn’t lessen our dignity, because by accepting help, we are cooperating in lifting ourselves up. In this we show our own dignity, and participate in the greater dignity of mankind.
Does evil exist, to be overcome? Does sin exist, for us to climb out of (with divine help)?
When God helps man, does it dignify or humiliate man? Or perhaps both?
I believe that God offers all His hand, and it is up to us to grab it. In grabbing His hand, we are stating that we are more than what we have become, but cannot make the change on our own. We are both humbled and dignified. But if we reject His hand, we are proclaiming that we are enough already, and would rather work alone and remain this way. In this, we accept a far lesser dignity, and refuse humility.
[Compare to John 3:19-21]
However, not everyone has yet seen God’s arm extended towards them, and so may have done neither, and perhaps others may have grabbed God’s hand without knowing it.
But, could this idea be likened to God making us, to push us over, to help us up, making Him bully and saviour? Would it make Him a tyrant who damns, to offer salvation, to please Himself?
No, because we were never pushed over. It is more like a gymnastics coach giving students distance while they want to go it alone, then helping when they fall, if allowed, and then assisting and training them so they won’t fall again.
If God grabbed us without consent, and lifted us up, much as I’m sure we’d be grateful after, we wouldn’t have proclaimed our dignity or have been humbled in grabbing His hand. Being forced up, we would have a new and foreign dignity, as we hadn’t grabbed to prove the dignity was already there. This new and foreign dignity, would lead us to arrogance, as we would look down on those still down without.
The key for all of this being just, and dignified for us, is our freedom the whole time. That we chose to be away from God, and then chose to accept God’s help, makes it loving, just, dignified, and humbling.
God’s arm extended towards us is Jesus Christ. Born of a virgin in a manger, murdered upon the cross, and resurrected on the third day. Jesus of Nazareth is God’s invite to repentance, to salvation, to holiness, and to life eternal.
God bless you, today and forevermore.
[Here’s a link to the text of something the new Pope Francis said on Good Friday. It seemed relevant to what I wrote about God offering His hand. I didn’t expect to write about this when I began this post, but it was the answer to the questions that naturally followed writing about help and the reason for evil]