Thursday, June 21, 2007

Salvation Reprise I

It is Man’s destiny, his ultimate goal or purpose, to return to God. We were made in communion with God, in His presence, and in His image. It is to this original relationship with God that we are called – a place where God is with all, in all, through all, where we live in Him and He in us. There are various schools of thought concerning how this looks in practice. For some, this is an “assumption,” a “joining,” a losing of one’s self in God so that there is little or no difference between me and God. We see the world as God sees it, we act as God acts because we have become so like God that we must. Others perceive that Heaven is the Creation restored to its rightful place. We will inhabit a pristine world as we were meant from the beginnings. Regardless of which view we take, there is some sense in which we return to God and live in harmony with or in Him.

What is sin? How do we become separated from God? Sin, regardless of which word we care to use for it, is essentially either 1) out right rebellion against God, or 2) living our lives with some perspective other than God’s. To put it another way, sin is living out of our pride, or out of fear that we must rely on ourselves. As a result, we become self-centered, concerned that I must take care of, or protect, myself first.

And so what is salvation? Salvation is not a decision, it is not an act per se. Rather, salvation is a returning to the existence, the character, the image in which (in whom) we were made. It is a returning home, it is an acceptance back into relationship with God. Salvation is not primarily or essentially a legal pronouncement, but rather the restoration of a correct world view.

How are we saved? If sin is either/or rebelling against God or behaving out of pride or fear, then salvation can be defined as trusting God, and submitting ourselves to Him and others. How do we do this; how does this occur? It is elegant in its simplicity and difficult in application. Simply, we let go of ourselves. We release control of our lives, of the world, of others, to God, the Maker and Sustainer of all. Do we trust God to handle life? If so, we live in accordance with what He has said. Do we live in agreement with the Image in which we were made? If so, we quit worrying about getting ahead, or of getting ours before others get theirs.

For some this letting go is difficult and takes great striving. For others, it appears more natural, more easily done. Whether difficult or easy, let go we must. There is no merit in this letting go, this surrendering to God, because it is simply a willingness to return to the place we were made to be. While some may need to wrestle with themselves daily, there is no merit in the daily ordeal. There is no active work that needs be done in this surrender. It is in fact, a ceasing to work, a ceasing to earn or protect something. This surrender is negative action. We simply let go and slip into the arms and essence of God.

This letting go then is not a work of merit, but we must “do it” in response to God. Not to do so keeps us in rebellion and distrust of God, and living for ourselves. This type of life is sin and separation from God. Repentance, seen in its appropriate light, is simply this letting go; this returning to trust God. It is not an empty ritual, but a realization and an acceptance of the invitation of God.

Nor is baptism an empty ritual. Seen in its appropriate light, it is the public declaration that we have accepted the invitation of God. It is not the act of baptism any more than it is the act of repentance that saves us. All of the power in both is that they embody our letting go of self in response to the grace of God.

Neither baptism or repentance are sacramental in the sense that there is something about them that is effective separate from the individual. One is not returned to God simply because they have been baptized, nor does one let go just because of outward act of repentance (or even an internal one). Neither is effective except that they witness a mystical or spiritual change in relationship – the person’s letting go of self which puts one in God.

Welcome and legal mumbojumbo

Welcome to my corner of cyberspace! Make yourself at home and enjoy a few minutes of reading. Everything here (text and pictures), unless otherwise indicated, is original and enjoys copyright protection. For re-use information, please contact me directly.

Information provided here is simply the creation of the author and is not intended as life advice, counseling, or therapy for anyone else. The use of any information found on this site is entirely at the discretion of the reader as they see fit for themselves. The author makes no claims to any particular expertise, experience, or training appropriate to justify basing any life, career, or any other type of decision on any of it.