Hello! I am back to posting, once a week now for the moment. I also plan to post some on medium.com. Click HERE for my recent post there. And please subscribe to my email list! And shoot me a note or meet me for coffee. The discussion is good.
Moving forward, I plan to continue looking specifically at the idea of ultimate redemption, but also address other related issues. There are so many different angles from which to approach issues of God, salvation, life, and death, so many different facets to address, so many broad questions we should try to answer, so many things that make me go hmmm, and in the coming weeks I want to talk about a few of them.
Today, I want to bring you in on part of a conversation I’ve been having recently with my uncle. We have traded emails back and forth, wrestling through a few different ideas, and I have immensely enjoyed the dialogue with him. I trust he has enjoyed it as well.
The question he posed to begin the discussion was, “What is salvation?” which is a great place to start. Thinking through the question was helpful for me and I want to share my response. I would love to hear what you think . . . and I imagine my uncle would as well.
Here it is:
As a beginning to the discussion, your question, “What is salvation?” is a great place to start, and is certainly worthy of consideration. It deserves consideration inside Christian circles, and it also should be examined from the view of humanity. Everyone is trying to make sense of and find meaning in life, and in so doing, “solve” the problem of death. To my mind, these are the two main issues inside the question of salvation. “What is salvation?” is looking for an answer to the questions: What is the meaning of life? And, what do we do with death?
There is much we could, and should, say in response; certainly these questions require more than simple answers. However, amid the myriad of proposed possibilities, I think the God revealed in Jesus offers the best explanation. I am fond of saying: if you can show me a better option than Jesus; if you can offer me a better explanation for the existence of the universe, for God and His relationship to humanity, for humanity and our relationship to God, if you can give me a better solution for the problem of death, if you have a perspective that will give me greater peace and joy in this life and a greater hope for a life to come, I’m all ears. I haven’t found it. To me, it makes sense that a self-existent, omnipotent, all-loving, all-knowing God created the world, that His creation sinned against Him, and that He made the way for the resulting broken world to be redeemed, sacrificing Himself on our behalf in the process, defeating death and giving us life forever. Through, and because of, Jesus, this is what God has done for all of us. We live in a world in which many people live in chaos and everyone dies, but through Jesus God freely gives us hope in the midst of life and peace in the face of death. This is salvation.
People live under incredible pressure to find meaning, hope, and peace in life, and all sorts of options promise all three. Although I acknowledge people find hope and peace in other belief systems or ideologies (and some purported followers of Jesus seem to find neither), it seems to me people find such peace by doing, by following some prescribed path, by putting forth required effort sufficiently. Buddhism’s 8-fold path, the pillars of Islam, the laws of Judaism, the altruism of humanism, or hedonism’s pursuit of pleasure all seem to require endless effort, which results in only limited or temporal satisfaction. Jesus offers peace and hope without conditions, having conquered death and sin for us already. He has given life, eternal life, to everyone, to all of us, without exception, whether or not we know it, whether or not we realize it. Jesus has saved us. Let’s just accept it . . . or don’t accept it. Except, if we don’t accept it, we will join the rest of the world in pursuing something, anything, that will provide meaning, hope, and peace in life, not realizing that everything we are pursuing we already possess in Jesus: meaning, purpose, significance, identity, security, value, hope, worth, peace, destiny, joy, love. Letting go of trying to find those things in enough success, achievement, relationships, or fame; or in enough Bible study, prayer, church attendance or religious devotion, and simply believing we have them all in Jesus – this is salvation.
The good news is Jesus has found for us already that which people spend a lifetime seeking without success. The gospel offers what I believe is the greatest feeling in the world – not love, happiness, peace, hope, or laughter, as good as those things are. The greatest feeling in the world is . . . relief. Freedom from the pressure of trying to earn God’s love and favor, of trying to find meaning and purpose somewhere, of the need to compare myself with those around me, of finding a solution to life and death. Whew. It is off my shoulders. It’s not up to me. Jesus has done it for me already.
The more I come to grasp this, the more relief and freedom I experience. The more I believe God loves me, that I don’t have to do anything to make myself something, the more I accept what Jesus did for me and for everyone, then the more peace and hope I find, even in the difficulties of life, even in the darkness of my own failings. And the more I pursue hope and peace on my own in other places, the more I realize I can’t find it. Accepting that God loves me fully and freely in Jesus, and letting go of trying to find my own peace, hope, and love – this is salvation.
Again, if there is a better option out there, I’m open; however, in Jesus I have found hope for life in the middle of an uncertain world and peace in the face of certain death, so I continue to put my faith in Him.