Monday, December 19, 2011

What if it's Not About Salvation?

Something has occurred to me recently. It has to do with the Christian church's obsession with salvation. It comes out in all sorts of ways like altar calls and church services. There are sermons on salvation and records of how many people were 'saved' this week, month, year. But I think we're missing the point.

I hope I can clearly communicate what I've been thinking.

Jesus' death on the cross achieved salvation for all of humanity. Right? So, if that's true then everyone is saved. Salvation of the human race is settled or, as Jesus famously said, it is finished. We didn't achieve our own salvation. It was done for us. All of us. Isn't that what the Christian Church believes and teaches. We cannot by our own power or understanding save ourselves hence the need for a Savior, Jesus Christ, who paid the price for our sin. All of sin for everyone.

So about now you may be thinking that I'm jumping on the 'everyone goes to heaven' bandwagon. I'm not. In fact I'm bold enough to say that salvation and who goes to heaven are two completely different issues. The former is settled and we can be confident of that because there is overwhelming evidence and writings announcing that. The latter, if scripture is accurate, isn't known to us. Frankly, there's scriptural evidence that it's none of our business who goes to heaven and who doesn't. That's totally and completely up to God. So, to sum up, everyone is saved and we have no idea who goes to heaven and who doesn't.

The work of the church then is twofold. First, tell everyone they are saved and not through any work of their own. Keep telling everyone who hasn't heard it that they are saved by the work of Jesus Christ. Some will believe that and some won't. Whether they do or not is none of our business either way. We're not in the convincing business we're in the telling business. The second job of the church is to equip those who believe Jesus saved them to go about serving everyone...e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e.

When speaking to believers there's no need to talk about salvation. They, by definition, believe that Jesus has saved them. It's done, settled. If we keep talking about it we risk communicating to believers that maybe it's not completely done. Maybe, just maybe, there's something more that needs to be done to seal the salvation deal. Maybe I need to attend more bible studies, or take communion, or pray harder, or... then my salvation will be really, really secure. So I'm saying we should stop talking about salvation with believers. Let's proceed as if it's a done deal...because it is. Jesus saved all of humanity from sin death and the power of the devil by his death on the cross. If you believe that I don't need to keep harping on it.

Now we can get busy equipping believers to be about those things we find throughout scripture that are God's expectations for those who believe. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the imprisoned, housing the homeless. We can spend our time making a difference in the lives of people in this world. We can witness the love of Jesus to people in need because we get it that all of us are lost and all of us are saved. So there are no classes. No one is greater and no one is lesser than anyone else. We can stop sitting around congratulating each other that we're saved because EVERYONE IS SAVED so none of us is special in that regard.

When we talk to those who don't believe we can talk about salvation. We can explain how it was accomplished. We can help them understand those feelings of loss, separation and hopelessness and point them to the fulfillment that comes from knowing that you're saved. Just like everyone else. And some will get it. Hooray! Some won't and we can be sad about that. But we can't tell them they're not going to heaven. Because we don't know that. And that's not our call. We don't get to say who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. We. just. simply. don't. God does.

Let's stop sitting around with other believers talking about how saved we are and start challenging each other to get busy responding to the call of the one who saved us...and everyone else.

Let's tell everyone they're saved and let God sort out who really believes that and who doesn't and what happens to everyone one way or the other. What might church look like if we did this? I wonder...