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Friday, October 24, 2008

Right Now

There is a book in the Bible that we call First Peter.  In the greeting of this "letter," verses 1:3-9, the writer claims with joy:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Within this selection, there is a lot to talk about!  There is the burst of praise, the reference to our "new birth,"  the promise of something wonderful that sounds like eternal life, an acknowledgment of suffering, an explanation of suffering, and the assertion of believing in what we do not see.  Whew!  That's packed!
For many centuries, the promise of life everlasting was a powerful force drawing people to Christianity.  Here was an offer to counter the ever-present fear of death.  The decay of our bodies, which starts while we live, was upsetting and frightening.  Here, however, was a promise that death would not be the end for those who were saved.  Our salvation would be being saved from death.
My question today is, what is your salvation?  From what will you be saved when you receive your salvation?
The writer of First Peter doesn't quite go so far, in this section, as to say that salvation is being saved from death.  This writer says, when we are born again as Christians, we are born into "a living hope."  In the last part of this passage, we are told that "now" we "are receiving the outcome of [our] faith, the salvation of [our] souls." 

Right now?
The author Mitch Albom wrote The Five People You Meet in Heaven.  The main character, Eddie, has died and we follow his afterlife encounters with people who are also dead and who have been waiting for him, to help him grasp the meaning of his life: to see if he can accept freedom from his bitter grief and freedom from his sense that his life has meant nothing.  For Albom, salvation lies along this path of accepting that yours is the one and only life and making peace with yourself about that.  That's one person's understanding of salvation.  Is it yours?
Let's suppose that you agree.  Let's suppose that your hope for salvation is that all the broken parts of your life will be made whole, all the estrangements reconciled, all the hopes finally proven to be well-founded.
Now consider what the Bible says in the passage which I've quoted in this note.  We "are receiving" our salvation now.  In light of this promise from our holy scriptures, I suggest to you that the salvation of wholeness, reconciliation, and hope is within your grasp.  This is Good News.  This is what it means to follow Jesus.

Right now!