What does salvation mean to you?
“The eclipse of the biblical God…has led also to an eclipse of the biblical understanding of what it means to receive salvation. In the Bible, talk about salvation refers primarily to God and God’s victory over all the powers that resist and distort God’s gracious purposes for the world….For North Americans, by contrast, salvation is more focused upon how God meets our needs.” p 32*
What is the central purpose of your life?
“What’s wrong with the idea that God meets our needs? We North Americans tend to think of meeting our needs as not just one good thing among many other aspects of life. We tend to think of meeting our needs as the central purpose of our lives. We regard it as a kind of moral mandate that precedes all other duties and responsibilities we might have. We have accepted the notion that the great drama of human life is the challenge to get one’s needs met.” p 33*
Ecclesiastes 12:13 says:
“fear God and observe His commandments, for this is the whole purpose of man.”
Can you find any truth in that statement, or does it ring hollow to you?
Which lists of realities consumes you?
- God’s life is stronger than death
- God’s righteousness is deeper than sin
- God’s faithfulness outlasts human rebellion
- God’s peace is more enduring than human violence
- God overcomes my guilt
- God solves my problems
- God gives meaning to my existence
- God makes me feel loved and included
If you’re anything like me, list B takes up more mental real estate than you would like to admit. Why is this? It’s because we North Americans are bombarded daily by the message that we are primarily consumers. We can’t escape this message; it’s on our TV, on the radio, in our magazines, at PTA meetings, and unfortunately, in our churches.
Is your church gathering comprised of people determined to lift up their lives and their voices as offerings to an eternal, loving, faithful and just God or people desperate to re-gain that feeling of connectedness? When was the last time you heard someone say, “I just didn’t give enough of myself in our worship gathering today.” On the other hand, how long has it been since you heard, “The music really didn’t minister to me this morning…”
What are we willing to do about this problem? I hope you’ve admitted that it is a society-wrecking problem of epidemic proportions by now. Can we reform our churches? How connected to our society are the gatherings of “believers” that most of us call “church”? Do you think they would survive if unplugged from seemingly innocent activities like primetime TV, soccer, gymnastics, working out at the gym, listening to the radio, etc.? Why does the idea of abandoning such trivial and eternally insignificant things seem so radical?
How many Christians that you know really even understand what it meant to be a disciple in the 1st century? And if they have some idea, how many do you know that are actually dedicated to zealously imitating their rabbi in all things?
Would you sell all your possessions and follow your rabbi if Yeshua walked up to you and said, “Come, follow me.” ?
Oh, wait; He did.
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 (ESV)
* Brownson, James V., et al. StormFront: The Good News of God. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003.