as i’ve begun reading, researching and asking questions about what salvation means, rather, how do we define it, i’m learning that the majority of people responding believe that salvation, connects us to God. i would agree with this whole heartedly, but i’m concerned with the idea of God being somewhere “out there” or salvation happening here and now but we won’t “get to God” unless these other steps are met. them more i pondered, an idea sprung up in my head: what if i wasn’t raised in the church? what if i hadn’t been raised in a christian culture? what if i was born in Delhi, or Kuwait, or North Korea? would this all make sense to me?
so what do i decide to do? i took the liberty and googled “ways to share salvation”. i clicked a link to a site called The Reach. here is how they would say salvation can be yours:
Romans 3:23 (New International Version)
For all have sinned. . . .
Romans 6:23 (New International Version)
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 10:13 (New International Version)
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
After I have shared these scriptures with them, I extend my hand and tell them to pray this prayer aloud with me: (I do not ask them if they are ready to pray) Heavenly Father, I believe that Jesus died on the Cross for me and rose again. I give You my life. I want Jesus Christ to come into my life and into my heart. Amen. If they were already saved, I tell them that Paul told Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist.” They can do the same.
is salvation this simple? is this the best way to show people Jesus? okay, i’m getting sidetracked toward the topic of evangelism. back on track.
is salvation yours if you just repeat what some guy in a mall parking lot tells you to repeat? i think the answer is yes and no. i would go out on a limb and say that the numbers fall predominately on the side of “no”. i’m not a pessimist, i promise. i simply don’t’ think that repeating words in what christians call “the sinners prayer” is what saves you. i’ve known those people who have prayed this prayer and not changed at all or cared to change.
on the other hand i’ve known people who’ve prayed this prayer and meant every word. so to answer this question, does the sinners prayer work, i would say, maybe and yes and no.
i’m trying to go into this as if i’d never heard the salvation message
i think we’ve reduced the idea of salvation down to politely forcing a person to repeat words and then “believe”. if they can do this, then all is well. their souls have been cared for; our work is done. i think the road to salvation starts a very long time before a person actually prays a prayer or just believes and transformation begins. i believe the road to Jesus to be a very long one.
perhaps this is another rabbit trail (like the evangelism soap-box i almost climbed on earlier), but i want to tell you about a good buddy of mine.
the guy is amazing. truly amazing. i was 20 when we met. i was failing miserably at being a good college student at the glorious school of Texas A&M. we actually met when i was back home for Christmas break. i was traveling all over west texas staying with family and friends when we decided to hang out. for me, it was another cool person to chill with. we connected and hung out over at my parents house. we stayed up late into the night talking, laughing, and there were even tears shed. it was a terrific night.
i decided to stay back in lubbock and change the way i had been doing things. A&M, as terrific as it was, simply wasn’t the place for me. so i moved back up to lubbock to figure things out. after moving back we were able to hang out more and more. we actually became really close – we were attached at the hip, so to speak. throughout our friendship i felt like the person learning so much and constantly “taking” from our relationship. what’s crazy it the dude was always on the go, but he seemed to always make time for me. seeing him do that gave me a new perspective on life and what i think i don’t have time for. don’t we all use the excuse, “ah, i can’t. i just don’t have time for that.” especially when it’s something we don’t want to do. but this guy spent his time with the most community driven attitude i’ve ever witnessed. he was moving from a friend to a mentor without even trying. he never sat me down and tried to teach me about life, he lived it.
as years went on, i found myself married and a son on the way. i had graduated from college and i was working back in lubbock when i decided to reconnect. that spring after we had really connected again me and my buddy sheldon decided we would fast for lent. i’ve never really told anyone that i fasted before so this is a big day. i wasn’t too fearful of fasting for lent partly because i knew it was physically possible. sounds silly doesn’t it? you see, he had fasted before for 40 days and so it gave me the confidence to do so. as i said earlier, it was his life that was inspiring me to live like i was.
i’ve never ben too caught up in the Roman Road of salvation or telling people the ABC method (admit.belief.confess). well, that’s not entirely true. i remember a time when i first met Jesus and all i wanted to do was share what he had done with my life, but i never told them my story. instead i told them what i had been trained to say. it never worked. i eventually gave up “sharing Jesus” in this fashion because the formulas never worked. never. at least they never worked for me. you might think it’s tragic that i never led anyone in the “sinners prayer” to receive the Lord Jesus into their heart. i’m not.
my friend i went on and on about above introduced me to what Jesus looked like in the flesh. he is the one that introduced me to what salvation means for me. salvation is in the hear and now. salvation doesn’t happen because you are dunked in magical waters, or if you repeat the right words said by a person who may or may not be a christian. salvation occurs when it is seen, when it is experienced.
i was taught that my story of coming to know Jesus wasn’t good enough so i had to regurgitate scriptures onto people who probably were tired of being vomited on. perhaps the church needs to remember that it was the story of Jesus that changed lives. it was the stories of transformation of the disciples and the early church that changed lives. it wasn’t the scriptures we know as the new testament – they didn’t have them. especially all in a nice leather-bound format. it was the stories of men and women being transformed by the Love of other people that saved them.
my friend i spoke of earlier who inspired me through the way he lived… i was actually talking about Jesus. you may have picked up on that, maybe not. regardless, it was Jesus that i saw through people around me that inspired me to change. it didn’t happen all at once, it happened over years and still is happening. salvation is occurring within me constantly.
perhaps, we need to be reminded that salvation isn’t about getting to eternal life or getting to heaven. salvation happens when we decide the end goal doesn’t matter. getting to heaven should be a perk so to speak. salvation is in the here and now. salvation to me isn’t about getting to Jesus, but rather living like Jesus every day.
Today, may you not be concerned with where you’ll end up.
may you find salvation here and now.
may your life be changed by seeing Jesus around by seeing people live His Love.
salvation isn’t about getting to walk through the pearly gates and sit with Jesus for all of eternity. it’s about bringing heaven to earth to help bring restoration and peace by actively being the living, breathing manifestation of Jesus.
Grace and Peace