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February 15, 2013

Salvation means being saved. But saved from what?  The answer we hear most often was developed from the two Creation stories in Genesis. In the first story, God created perfect human beings as a part of all creation. “God saw that it was good.” But in the second story, as a result of evil influences, Adam and Eve, representing all human beings, disobeyed God and chose to become imperfect, resulting in human pain and suffering and were evicted from the garden thus becoming separated or estranged from God. Thus all humans must be saved from that “original” human sin or estrangement from God. Note that the word “sin” is from the Latin, sine, meaning “without.” Our human sin is living without God. But I cannot accept that each human being is born without God’s spirit as an integral spark within.

We now know that humans were not created perfectly at a single moment in time only to then choose imperfection. Rather human beings have evolved relatively recently over the long development of life from its simplest forms. And in each life there is a struggle for survival and this is a very strong instinct that we have inherited from our evolutionary ancestors.  In addition, we humans have evolved with an awareness of self plus an amazing capability of imagination.   As a result, we develop insecurities along with instinctive fears and suspicions of strangers that create so much evil in the world. Our behavior becomes self-serving. Our real salvation therefore is to be saved from letting our animal instincts take over, to let that love within each of us dominate our behavior, to let that experience of God expand within each of us, to strive to become more fully human, as Jesus was fully human as well as fully holy.

To say it in simpler words, salvation is being found after being lost. Even children seem to understand what being lost is like. So being saved by God means never being lost from God. And I cannot believe that we are born lost. I see God’s presence in every newborn baby! But we can grow to ignore that presence, we can let those animal instincts that are so a part of us take control. Then we let our fears and suspicions and hatreds take over and we hurt each other. We even kill. That is the evil that we bring onto others as well as ourselves. But that spark of God is still within each human, if we will only choose to let it grow.   We humans need to be saved from ourselves, from our instinctual selfishness, letting God’s spirit lead us to become more fully human.

That is what I understand by the familiar phrase, “Jesus saves!” But I prefer the verse from John 14:20, “Know that I am in my father, and I in you, and you in me.”

Loren Bullock
November 3, 2012, revised February 21, 2013

From → Beliefs

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