In class, we looked briefly at how the way people talk about God has changed over the centuries, as people looked at the cross and tried to make sense of what happened there. People would use their own experiences to communicate what they thought was going on. I won’t go through all of them, but as an example in the Medieval England, when everybody (apart from landowners) was owned by someone else, people viewed “salvation” as changing masters. Going from a bad one (Devil) to a good one (God). Being owned was their experience.
The main theme running through all of the years was this – God did something for us through Jesus that we can’t do for ourselves. And it’s awesome, life changing, mind renewing…
As we are going through this list, I’m thinking of our tech-driven generation and wondering what future generations will look back and see. Will they see a mix of what has gone on before? How will that reflect the age in which we live? What words do we use to describe what God did through Jesus on the cross?
Computer theology? Salvation is a bit like a computer. When it gets switched on, things happen inside that I don’t need to fully understand. I’m just thankful and enjoy the benefits. (Just like accepting Jesus and the process of being remade by the Holy Spirit).
Firewalls and Anti-virus software must be installed to protect my computer from hackers and those who would try to steal my data. I don’t need to fear the hackers, just be aware and alert about where I go on the internet and what emails I look at. (Satan wants to wreck what God’s doing. Be alert, but not afraid.)
My computer can be used to email, Tweet, Inbox, Blog messages of hope and the truth of God’s love to others. It can also be used to challenge unjust political and social structures. Yes, it can change the world. (Just as salvation in Christ frees us to act as Christ’s ambassadors in the world.)
Of course, not everyone appreciates computers.
Salvation can also be like driving a car. You turn the ignition and the engine roars into life, and petrol (Holy Spirit) keeps you going! (Thank you, Eric Delve, for sharing that one at St Helen’s Parish Church last year.)
Salvation can be like when your newborn finally sleeps through the night. All those days of struggling with little sleep are over! A whole new world has begun with this new little baby.
For some, salvation can be like the winning goal in the last second of the match. Just when “you think it’s all over”, Jesus comes and turns everything around.
For others, salvation is like going to the bank expecting to be served an eviction notice and finding out your debts have been paid.
What God did on the cross through Jesus can be described in your terms, in relation to your experience. What does not change is what God did.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17
And also unchanging is that this is something we definitely can’t do for ourselves. And the miracle is something that is absolutely gob-smackingly fantastic. That when we really think about it, leaves us standing or kneeling in jaw-dropped awe.
So what does salvation mean to you?
A comedian might say salvation is a bit like entering the Edinburgh Fringe with no hope, and Tim Vine gives you his best pun. And not only that, but he lets you enter it. You didn’t think of the pun, but you reap the benefits when it wins.
But I wonder…how would you describe it?