A Very Selfish Salvation

15 11 2007

I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately on the nature of salvation for the Christian.  I’ve found that my theology is changing just a bit. 

My dad was here visiting recently, and it seems that no matter where I go theologically, he disagrees with me.  Not that we differ; I find that our opinions are perfectly harmonious.  I guess it’s just a father-son thing that the father needs to correct the son’s errant thinking!  Nevertheless, I perceive it as my desire to take a basic belief and expand upon it so I can get the fullness of it.  Sorta like something I experienced in a trip to New Orleans years ago.  I was with friends eating in a dinky, dingy, dive of a diner that served the best sandwiches in town.  There we observed a local not only eating crawfish, but biting the head off, and sucking out the juices.  Blech.  Of course I grew up around a family that ate cow tongues and pig brains, so maybe I shouldn’t be too quick to blech.  In both culinary traditions, there is not only the desire, but the essential need to make use of the WHOLE thing.  And compatible with my beliefs on the issue of holiness is the idea that holiness reqires wholeness.  It seems wrong to narrow focus and miss out on all the good juices of the Gospel.

My earliest and most rudimentary understanding of salvation was that it was about shunning Hell and gaining Heaven.  As a pastor, I’ve spoken with many people whose salvation event was based solely on the fear of Hell.  Don’t you dare get me wrong – I’m not going to discount the importance of that at all.  However, I’ve come to believe that if this is the focus of our relationship with Christ, then we’re missing out on the much, much bigger and better picture.  More on that in a moment.

As for this issue of relationships with Christ, I wonder if we keep this as a totally selfish incident as well.  If our walk with Christ is solely a “personal” thing, then we’ve lost focus on the words of Christ that are repeated more than any other in Scripture.  The Great Commission is included at the end of all 4 Gospels, as well as in the book of Acts.  We’re told to go to all the world with the Good News and saving grace of Christ Jesus (my paraphrase).  Moreover, there is the Great Command of Christ which tells us to love others no matter what (again, an oversimplification).  Both of these relevant issues are societal in nature and cannot exist independent of others.  Without going into a lengthy exegesis, I have to surmise that salvation isn’t just to benefit the one, but to benefit the many!  Certainly, Christ died for each of us as individuals, but we must be mindful that this excludes no one.  He didn’t die JUST for me (although He did die for me).  He died so that all might be saved.  This, of course, requires our acceptance in faith.  Further, if my salvation event happens merely for Hell avoidance (John Wesley uses the word “merely” in regards to Heaven and Hell and salvation), then I am missing the wonders of what Christ can do in me TODAY.  I am not saved for some future (real) experience, I am being justified and renewed to a wonderful and glorious and holy life that happens today as well.  Frankly, I don’t want a mansion in Glory.  Give me a little cabin in the corner woods of paradise and that will be more than sufficient.  Frankly, I don’t want to live my life in fear of what my afterlife portends.  Doing so would cause me to miss the wonder of not only experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit today, but it would also rob others around me.  My salvation is a duty and privilege for today that must move into the world around me.  It is made up of elements such as mercy, kindness, justice, generosity and hospitality.  These are all things that Christ taught.  These are all things that the New Testament letters reiterate. 

Moses prayed to God, “Show me Your Glory”.  That is a present prayer that effects many.  God help us if our salvation erodes into just a selfish caricature of what it ought to be.

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2 responses

16 11 2007
inspiredword

Good article, christianity is about living the life of christ and sharing it with others. It about exhibiting His character which will draw others unto Christ.

12 01 2008
C.L. Mareydt

that should be ‘everyone’s prayer’ …

if it becomes all about the ‘me’ point of life, it is true that we have once again … missed the mark. thank you for a very thoughtful, insightful article … please check out this magazine that corresponds to what you are writing about …

IT IS ALL ABOUT BEING THE CHANGE WE WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD … TODAY!

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