Søren Kierkegaard was a philosopher, theologian, and psychologist and though I disagree with many of his opinions (especially regarding the church) I happened across one of his more engaging thoughts while reading some of his works. In his publication, Training in Christianity, Kierkegaard quotes Matthew 11:28 where Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” In response to this verse, he writes:
Commonly it is understood that one who is able to help must be sought out; and when one has found him, it may be difficult to gain access to him, one must perhaps implore him for a long time; and when one has implored him for a long time, he may perhaps at last be moved. That is, he sets a high value upon himself.
Imagine this: you need heart surgery. Not only do you need surgery but you need it soon. You’ve just graduated from college (so you don’t have a lot of money), and you don’t have any insurance to cover you, but you desperately need this surgery—it’s life or death. You race from hospital to hospital searching for doctors who would operate on you but the most they can do for you is put your name on a list and call you back in 6-12 months. Secretaries tell you the list is very long and that there are people who are willing to pay more money for surgery than you have in your entire bank account. They don’t understand your situation, nor do they care. All you can do is wait.
This is the normal protocol, says Kierkegaard. Professionals who have the ability to drastically change a person’s situation are in high demand, and because of that they are hard to find and very expensive. This is what Kierkegaard is saying: help isn’t cheap, its a rare commodity that can leave the needy hopeless.
Now imagine that the day after you discover you need heart surgery, an experienced and decorated surgeon shows up at your door. You hadn’t even stepped outside your house yet, but he knew you would need surgery and was willing to operate, free of charge. All you have to do is show up at his hospital and he would take care of the rest.
Does that sound fishy? Does that sound too good to be true? Well, it is. Yet this is exactly what Christ did for us as our spiritual doctor. Kierkegaard makes the point that, not only is Christ capable of helping us but He came to us. God the Father sent his Son down to earth for us. Jesus Christ tried to turn Israel away from their sins (but they wouldn’t), He presented himself to us as a holy sacrifice, and He bore the burden of our sins. He was the only one who could help our empty estate, and instead of holding salvation as a high-priced commodity, He offered us righteousness free of charge. Kierkegaard writes:
But He, the only one who can truly help, the only one who can truly help all, and so the only one who truly can invite all, He stipulates no condition at all.
In a world focused on gaining the upper-hand, that has a quid pro quo-mentality, I am amazed at the standard of humility that our great God has set for all humanity. I could go on about this forever. Instead, I challenge you to think deeply about what Jesus did for us today. He could have allowed us to suffer and die, to leave us on that waiting list. But no. He came to us. He offered us rest in the midst of sinful lives. He showed up at our door and offered us the free gift of salvation. All we have to do is meet him and trust in him. Are you willing?