Often we think of “salvation” as a movement from or against: away from sin, hell, or the “world.”
But what is salvation for? What is it leading us to?
Is heaven the extent of our answer?
What if our idea of salvation needed to move away from a “place” (going to heaven instead of hell) and more toward a “person”?
Fullness of Life?
When I was in school preparing to become a pastor I had to practice evangelizing. At a local community college I talked with students about sin and death and heaven and hell (I know, not really the approach I would prefer taking).
While talking with a student I mentioned something about how Jesus came to bring “fullness of life” or “abundant life” (John 10:10). The student then ask me what that meant, what did the abundant life look like in my life.
Uh oh, I thought. Now I’m in trouble.
I didn’t have a good answer.
For me, at that time, salvation was primarily summed with going to heaven instead of going to hell. But this student was asking me what “fullness of life” looked like right now.
And I didn’t have a good answer for that—AND I KNEW IT.
I left with a valuable lesson—not about evangelism, but about my understanding of salvation.
Why Go to Heaven?
So often our first idea about salvation is going to heaven. But if we are asked what heaven will be like we have very little idea (clouds, singing… [crickets]).
My oldest son once commented that he didn’t really want to go to heaven. After overcoming my shock and surprise at being such an awful Christian parent I decided asked what he meant.
Heaven sounded boring to him. He didn’t know what we were going to do there. All his friends and family are here. All the things he likes to do are here. Everything he knew and loved was here.
And I couldn’t blame him. He was focused on the relationships, the people he loved, and the people who loved him. He isn’t old enough to think about death and the absence of people he loves. Everyone he loved was here.
But he was on to something. Salvation is all about the people, not the place. This is why salvation is coming, rather than going.
Salvation is A New Family
This is especially clear in the letter of First Peter.
Peter uses a preponderance of “family” or “household” language to describe salvation. He even speaks of salvation as a “new birth” through which we enter the family of God the Father through Jesus the Son (1 Peter 1:3). And as “new born babies” we must grow up into this family of salvation (1 Peter 2:2).
Many of us take this “new birth” or “born again” metaphor lightly, but for the early church this was a revolution.
• Your social status no longer mattered.
• Your wealth no longer mattered.
• Your poverty or slavery no longer mattered.
• Your legal or illegal status no longer mattered.
You were now part of the family of God.
As I’ve said before, salvation is more about at-home-ment than atonement.
Brought to God
Ultimately, salvation is not just entrance into a new family—as great as that is.
Salvation is “access to God” every moment of the day.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. (1 Peter 3:18)
God is the source of life and love, the place where we find our home. And Jesus brings us directly into the presence of God—Jesus, God the Son, brings us before God the Father.
And this isn’t true just for some point in the future, but right now through the Spirit of God (see how I got the entire Trinity into this).
This entrance into God’s life is what makes “abundant life” possible here and now, and what makes heaven what it is later—life with God always!
Salvation is more of a home-coming, than a going home.
Faith Hack: Life with God
If, as I said in the previous Faith Hack, if the gospel is “God with us” then salvation is entrance into that abundant life with God—beginning now and going on for eternity.
Can we think of salvation more in terms of people (God and others) rather than place?
Can we think of salvation as something that is coming into our relationships now rather than something to come later?
How would your view of God change if you focused primarily on your family relationship with God (rather than something else like “sovereign God” or “Lord of all)?
How would your view of others changes if your saw them as already part of your family, or a people you would love to add to your family?
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