Sunday, June 25, 2006

What must I do to be saved?

I love that question.

Last night, I picked up Adventures in Missing the Point by Campolo and McLaren. They say that at the time of Jesus, the common understanding about salvation was political. Come to think of it, the disciples thought so, too, because after Jesus's resurrection...
...they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"
Acts 1.6
For the nation of Israel, being saved meant "saved from oppressors" whether that would have meant the Romans, the Babylonians, whoever.

But the salvation Jesus came to bring was something else entirely, which is probably why people entirely missed it at the time.

Now in Acts chapter 16, we see Paul and Silas in jail:
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped...

The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved -- you and your household."

Acts 16.25-27, 29-31
Now the Jewish people missed the point of salvation. What is the chance that a jailer, who works for the Roman oppressors, will have any idea of salvation at all? Could he possibly be thinking about being saved from a meaningless life or eternal damnation? I don't think so.

Here's a guy who thought he was going to be executed so he thought he'd save the executioners the trouble by just killing himself. He's not talking about meaning in life or a relationship with God; he's talking about keeping his job and feeding his family. And his head.

But Paul and Silas address, well, they address his real need, rather than his felt need. Although the jailer missed the point, Paul and Silas didn't.

I want to be more like them. I want to address real needs, explain how they relate to the felt needs, and see people saved. Saved from hell, yes. But also saved "from the futile way of life inherited from your forefathers" (1 Peter 1.18)

What does it take to become like that? Let me know if you figure it out, but meanwhile I think I'm on the 50-year plan.

No comments: