Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thoughtful About . . . Salvation

Salvation. Something of the utmost importance to any believer, and of the utmost relevance as Easter nears. Turn on any contemporary Christian show and you'll come across the phrase "to be saved."

It's become (dare I say so?) a cliche. Saved. It means you're a Christian. Born again. Washed in the blood, and all that. Right? A matter of the soul. A decision. "I'm saved" means that you've made a decision to live for Christ.

But as I reread a chapter in Romans this week that uses that phrase, I had to stop and really ponder it. Saved. That's a strong word. It doesn't just connote a decision, it denotes being snatched from the jowls of destruction. Delivered from impending doom. That's BIG.

I had to rethink the meaning and implication of our understanding of salvation as I wrote Jewel of Persia this past year. Why? Because salvation was a very present, very important theme through much of the Old Testament, especially in the book of Esther. It's totally about salvation--being saved from obliteration through the courage and faith of one Jewess who God had placed beside a king. That is literal, physical salvation.
I expounded on this theme throughout my book, making my heroine pray continually for salvation--to be saved from her enemies, from death, from intrigue, and from loss of faith. Again, literal, physical salvation. I even end the book with the line, "Our salvation is at hand." Meaning number one being that the Jews were fighting back against the Persians who wanted to destroy them, yes, but I also wanted to look forward to Christian salvation with it.

Which is different, right? Salvation as we think of it now is a matter of the spiritual, not the "literal, physical." Isn't it? 

I always thought so. But as I read Romans 10, I had to wonder. It's obvious Paul is talking about high stakes here. His ultimate heart's desire is that Israel be saved. Saved . . . from what? From eternal peril, yes. From their own ignorance, definitely. But what about the "literal, physical"? Has the word lost that meaning in this use?

Here's the thing--it hadn't. That's why the use of it here must have been so striking, so ground-breaking. At the time, I'm betting that "saved" meant ONLY "deliverance." As in, from a visible, impending threat. It was real. It was there. So when the writers of the New Testament suddenly applied this word that meant a literal saving from destruction to matters of the soul . . .

WOW. That's quite a leap, isn't it? That to a people whose Law was tied up in earthly punishments, earthly destruction or blessing, suddenly there is an ultimate salvation offered, not for one's physical life only, but for something beyond. Something that addressed those inner issues that had begun to rise to the forefront of peoples' minds. 

These days, we're taught the spiritual meanings of "saved" and "born again" at so early an age that we often fail to realize how revolutionary it was for Jesus and His followers to take something purely physical and apply it to that incarnate realm. And because we fail to realize that, I think we miss some of the power of it.

So as I enter the final days of Holy Week leading up to Resurrection Day this year, I'm going to be pondering how salvation is real, temporal, physical . . . and how that makes it all the more important that it's also offered to my soul

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