In 1983, the Australian synth-pop band Real Life released their hit song, “Send Me an Angel.” The song failed to gain traction outside of Australia until it was featured in the BMX racing movie Rad, which failed to receive Oscar consideration, though every teen or pre-teen male in the United States at that time knew that this was the greatest film ever made. The movie played out on screen all of our dreams: racing glory, winning the girl, and foiling the villainous pimply bad guy.
Every person wants glory, everyone wants true love, and we want justice to be done: these are the hallmarks of every good story, and can be found in the greatest of novels to the simplest of movies. But our sights are often limited by the glories introduced to us in our season of life: as we get older, these desires expand, but far too often we settle for short-sighted pleasures and self-centered comforts. If we have these, then we will be fulfilled, so we think. Consider this quote from C.S. Lewis’ The Weight of Glory:
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
In the short story The Dream of a Ridiculous Man, by Fyodor Dostoevsky, the protagonist tells the tale of his change from a melancholy that would end his life to a life of purpose and selflessness. The turning point was a dream he had where he is whisked away to a faraway planet. The world looks in every way like our own, with one major difference: it’s a world without sin. The man sees their love for one another, their desire for justice, and the happiness which reigns in a world without error. He introduces to them sin, and it seems so attractive, they fall into this pit and quickly their world dominoes into the very world in which we live. The man was transformed by the dream because he had an encounter with real life. By real life I don’t mean he saw people falling into temptation and sin, but rather real life as a world without it. For if Jesus is real and the story he gives is absolutely true, then real life is that world, not quite the one we know now. It’s the one we were made for. All this sin here has taken a palace at Versailles and plastered it with cheap wallpaper. At dinner they serve chili dogs.
14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Jesus is alive and well friends. And his ascension into heaven and sending of the Holy Spirit confirms for us his ever-living presence with us and his church. We are to be a people most connected to real life, for it is the one we know now, fueled by the Spirit. Though we do see through a glass dimly, we will see God face to face, and he has promised his presence in his church in the right now, a power not to be ignored or minimized, but a power that we embrace in all that we do. For we are no longer dead to sin, but made alive in him; we are people not just “send me an angel,” though angels are recently part of this reality, we are a people who received God himself, and he will never let us go.