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“With such preaching stark and bold, John proclaimed salvation near…”
“Are you saved?” Every time I hear this question I want to say, “What do you mean by ‘saved’?” Over my years of teaching Bible and theology to adults and teenagers, I’ve learned that most people equate salvation with getting into heaven after you die. In this view, if you are good, and say and believe the right things, Daddy will reward you in the future. Naturally, we all want to be rewarded and go to heaven, but to make this the focus of our Christian life is immature. To make “are your saved” the central question misses the point. Salvation is best understood when linked to its biblical context. The biblical authors describe salvation through words which can be translated as “deliver,” “bring to safety,” “redeem,” “buy back,” “vindicate,” “save,” “help in time of distress,” and “set free.” The real question it seems ought to be “How can I be helpful?” Salvation means first to allow God to set us free from the chains that bind our own hearts, then to find our way of bringing God’s liberating, vindicating, redeeming love to the world. To see salvation in terms of heaven and hell is to see it as something for ourselves. To see salvation in the terms of the Bible sees it as something we – and God – do for others. Theresa of Avila says that we know we’ve reached spiritual maturity when our questions and concerns no longer have a self -focus; when they are no longer “am I saved” but “how can I be helpful?”
Prayer: Dear Jesus, may I know in my heart the power of the salvation you bring; may I have the courage and maturity to ask, “how can I be helpful?” Amen.