You are the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the great God and Savior of our hope, the image of Your goodness, the true seal of revealing in Himself You, the Father. He is the living Word, the true God, eternal wisdom, life, sanctification, power, and the true light.
(Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, p. 24)
For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.
I Timothy 4:10
If you fell off a boat in the middle of a stormy sea, your life would quickly be endangered. If someone on the boat threw you a life-preserver ring with a rope on it, you most certainly would grab it. The person who threw the life-preserver to you and who pulls the rope, bringing you back to the safety of the boat would be your “savior.” The one who rescues someone is called their “rescuer.” The one who saves someone is called their “savior.”
Now again imagine if you are in the water drowning, and someone threw the life-preserver, the means to be saved, to you. You would have two choices—grab on and allow yourself to be pulled to safety, or ignore that life-saving device and keep flailing. I would like to think that most of us would grab the life-preserver and not drown needlessly.
In this example, somewhere in our own mind, there would have to be the thought “I am in trouble, I need to be saved.” A life-preserver is not a lasso, where it would be thrown around you involuntarily and you would be forcibly reigned in. It would be thrown to you, or perhaps near you, and you would have to make the conscious decision to grab onto it. If you did the sensible thing, and grabbed onto the life-preserver, you’d hold on tight, and allow the “savior” to bring you in to safety. And once you were on board the ship again, saved from drowning, hopefully you’d show a lot of gratitude to your “savior”, recognizing that he or she is the only one standing between you and death.
Among the many names given to Jesus Christ, (see previous reflection) is the name of “Savior.” These sentences of the prayer refer to Him as “our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the great God and Savior of our hope.” If we believe that He really is our Savior, then we must believe that we really need saving, we must believe that without Him, we would be lost. If we believe that He is our Savior, then we must put ourselves into the example of this reflection (or something like it) where we would perish without the help of a Savior. And as in the aforementioned example, we are part of our own salvation, our own saving. Because salvation is not imposed on us. Jesus Christ is our Savior, but we offer our voluntary participation in the process of salvation. He is the one who throws the life-preserver. It’s our choice to grab on or not.
The prayer specifically says that Jesus Christ “is the great God and Savior of our hope.” If we are drowning, we realize that He is the only hope of being saved. He is not just a potential person who can save us. He is the only one who can save us.
The prayer continues by revealing the attributes that Jesus Christ shares with God the Father—the image of God’s goodness, the true seal, that is, the true reflection of God revealed in Himself. This is confirmed in Matthew 11:27, among other places, where Jesus sets the relationship between Him and God. He reveals God as Father, and Himself as Son. He says “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”
The prayer continues by describing the attributes of Jesus Christ. He is:
The living Word-In other words, the “Word of God”, the voice that was part of the Creation of the world, each time “God said”, is now not just author of Creation, He is now living in the Creation.
The true God-God is revealed as Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Son is the True God, or as we say in the Creed, “true God of true God, begotten not created.” He is co-eternal with God.
Eternal wisdom—Existing from eternity. In John 1:1-3, we read “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.” In John 1:14, we read “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” In other words, that wisdom that was from eternity, from the beginning, came to be with us.
Life, sanctification, power and the true light-Continuing in John 1, we read that “In Him (the Word, later revealed as Jesus Christ, the one who took on flesh and dwelt among us) was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5)
Jesus Christ is not merely an icon on our walls or a word in our books, but the living God. Just like the church is not just a building but an organism, something that breathes, grows, and lives.
In I Timothy 4:6-9, we read: “If you put these instructions before the brethren (previous instructions warning the people of false piety, written about in I Timothy 4: 1-5), you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the good doctrine which you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless and silly myths. Train yourself in godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” This sets up the verse quoted above, that “for to THIS end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all me, especially of those who believe.” (I Timothy 4:10)
We are all in rough seas. The first thing we need to believe as Christians is that we are in rough seas. The second thing we need to believe is that we need saving. The third thing is to recognize Jesus as the Savior, with the life-preserver being the faith (the Scriptures, the Church, etc.). The fourth thing is to choose to grab the ring, and wait through the storm as Jesus pulls us to safety. And even if it takes a while, to not doubt, to not lose faith and to not let go. And finally, to recognize not only that Jesus is our Savior, but to live a life of gratitude that reflects this.