John Jones, ABC/WI Interim Regional Executive Minister
(from WB, summer 2021)
Mark 7:37 –They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”
Jesus saves! A simple phrase, but also the fundamental conviction of the Christian religion. It is the simplest (and truest) statement of faith. Unfortunately the phrase can sound trite if we too easily assume we understand what our salvation in Jesus Christ is. I’m afraid we lose a lot in our faith if the idea of salvation is boiled down to what happens when we die. Salvation is multi-tense: past, present, and future. And the salvation that is the core and touchstone of our faith is so much more than happiness or reward.
One of the biblical images of salvation is of “healing,” something we see clearly throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry. Theologian Alister McGraths speaks of Jesus saving through his three-fold office of Prophet, Priest, and King. In the Prophetic office, Jesus speaks truth and heals our ignorance. In the Priestly office, Jesus becomes the sacrifice and heals our guilt. In the Kingly office, Christ rises to universal authority, healing our bondage to worldly powers.
That’s all pretty language – and a bit abstract – but if you think it through for a minute, you’ll notice that the salvation known through healing is both miraculous and demanding. It frequently causes discomfort and is sometimes even painful.
When Jesus heals our ignorance through the good news, we are confronted by our wrong thinking, by our ideas of our own worth or importance. Facing the truth is sometimes painful.
When Jesus heals our guilt through the gift of forgiveness, we must truly face our sin and wrongdoing, experience the pain of guilt for it to be healed. Anyone who has ever offered a genuine, heartfelt apology knows this pain and discomfort that precedes just the possibility of healing.
When Jesus heals our bondage as Savior and Lord of all creation, we experience the pain of letting go of our false, worldly authorities. Jesus heals from the bondage of addiction through our powerlessness. This is salvation. Jesus heals us from the bondage of a consumerist culture so that we might live a simple life. This is salvation.
Jesus saved us. Jesus is saving us. Jesus will save us. And though that salvation is precious, wonderful, even miraculous – the very core of our faith – it is also demanding and sometimes uncomfortable, even painful.
So as Jesus is saving us from a global pandemic, accept the discomfort that accompanies this glorious process. As Jesus is saving us from this nation’s foundational and original sin of racism, embrace the discomfort and pain by which this salvation comes. Salvation is beautiful and glorious and the very core and touchstone of our faith. Salvation is freely offered and accomplished by Jesus. But salvation is neither easy nor cheap.
Embrace the fullness of this shortest of credos, as we live into the salvation that God is accomplishing in our world: Jesus saves!