I don’t know if that title qualifies as “click bait” or not, but whatever: that’s the title that came to me, and what’s more, I believe it.
On one hand, I think Jesus lived in an utterly different reality compared to most of us. I think he dwelled in what might be called “the sacred now.” He lived in a dynamic, living interplay with his Heavenly Father, and I think that reality and relationship was on of the defining characteristics of his life and his ministry.
On the other hand, one of the things that I have come to understand through the years of seeking the Kingdom and pursuing Christ is that Jesus came to show us that we can live in that same reality.
It’s available to us. Now.
(As opposed to later, when we die.)
Throughout the stories and reports of his life, Jesus makes these remarks about the potential of life here and now, on this earth:
One of his favorite “pronouncements” is that the Kingdom of God—a way of life that is soaked through with divine, loving potential—is available and present now, in and among us (Matthew chapter 4, Mark chapter 1, Luke chapter 17).
In John’s gospel, Jesus repeatedly refers to a life that is characterized by a “stream of living water” (that is, water that is flowing and moving) that is, again, available to human beings in their present reality, not distant.
So, what if Jesus was telling the truth?
I know for myself, much of my life has been marked by anything but that type of reality. Most of the time I found myself either waiting for a “magical” transformation (that never seemed to happen), or a simple resignation that I could/would never change until I died and then I could go “be with Jesus in heaven”, at which point I would:
- get a harp to play and a toga to wear
- sing some sort of vague worship song while living on a cloud
- “finally” be changed
This reality seems pretty counter to what Jesus was saying. According to Jesus, “salvation” is actually a life: a God-bathed, Spirit-directed life.
“Salvation is a life.” This is one of two closely-related ideas that I think Jesus desperately wants his followers to know. Furthermore, I think that if we had a conversation with him right now, he would tell us that to the degree that we can make this (and next week’s) truth a present reality in our lives, we would find ourselves radically, revolutionarily changed.
In fact, I think that one of the important reasons we have these “Gospels” (“Good News” stories about who Jesus was and what he did and why he was our long-awaited Messiah) is that they show just what a “salvation life” actually looks like.
(Hint: it looks like Jesus’ life: helping other people; healing others; being radically compassionate to the hurting; experiencing a joyful dynamic intimacy with his Father; the ability to endure setbacks and suffering; and finally the willingness to offer the totality of his life and body as an instrument to be used for the sake of others.)
The Biblical, Jesus-exemplified salvation is a life, not a death.
It is potentially now, not then.
It is potentially here, not there.
I don’t know how that strikes you, but I remembered that when I began to wake up and open up to that reality a couple of things happened inside me:
First, I realized how much I had “settled” for something less than the Kingdom of God here and now. My sights had lowered, and I had given up hope that change was possible. I had nearly completely resigned myself to the idea that I would limp and stumble through my earthly life, repeating the same old mistakes and sins I had always committed, experiencing relief only when I breathed my last, and could finally “lay my burden down.” (Don’t get me wrong: I will be happy to lay aside some of my burdens, but it was really about where and how I was settling in my current spiritual life.)
Second, I realized how desperately hungry I was for this life. If Jesus really was offering me a life that looked just like his, and he was offering me that now, rather than later, I wanted it. I needed it. I was beginning to leave a trail of destruction, both in my personal life as well as in the life of those who were closest and most important to me. I wanted and needed this change.
So I guess the questions this morning are:
- What does “salvation” mean to you? Is it “here and now”, or is “there and later”?
- What is your life capable of becoming? Do you believe that Jesus thinks you are capable of living a life like his?
Next week: the other thing that Jesus wants you to know.
Under the mercy,
I’m so grateful for each and everyone of you. As usual: please like, comment and share.