The historic and prominent reason given for God’s love and specifically for Jesus death and resurrection is that we are sinners and need saved.
Nice and neat.
Which begs the questions, saved for what exactly? Or even saved from what exactly?
Most Western Christians assume, because they have been taught this, that Jesus died for us because we need saved from Hell. The point being we can now spend all eternity in Heaven rather than being punished in Hell.
But is there a chance we have missed the point?
Now this is pretty much old news. We’ve debated for years, not just since Rob Bell’s book ‘Love Win’ was published almost two years ago, what the point of salvation is. But instead of looking at it from a “Is Hell a real place?” discussion, what if we reframed it into a “What if avoiding Hell or getting into Heaven for that matter isn’t the full objective” discussion?
Is Jesus death about that, or is it about saving us so we can be God’s Priests and Kings in the New Heaven and New Earth? Is it about following arbitrary rules to live as best as we can here and now in the hope that someday we will be leaving for something better?
Something tells me we’ve got it wrong a lot of the time and that we have misunderstood what Jesus came to do. We’ve made Jesus out to be someone we pray to once and use to get our golden ticket out of here rather than someone whose lead we follow by living sacrificial lives and growing to be more and more like, for the purpose of playing our part in bringing God’s kingdom to Earth.
Jesus death has set in motion a new way of thinking about the world. Not one where everyone needs to be told to repent so they don’t end up in Hell but where we need to repent because God is starting something bigger than we imagined and we have a part to play in it.
Perhaps we don’t like to view it like this because it means we have a responsibility to work at ourselves and train to become more like Christ and that seems too much like ‘works’. But this is not how Paul saw it and it’s not how we should either.
When you read the New Testament through the eyes of someone who believes that God is redeeming this world and that our goal is to work out our salvation to be a part of the rescue plan that is already happening, much of the New Testament begins to make more sense.
The Beatitudes become an example of the type of characteristics that will be found in the New Heaven and Earth, not just rules of how to act.
Jesus’ call to deny ourselves and take up our cross makes sense now that we know that we aren’t just waiting around for the end of the world. We need to so we can be part of God’s rescue plan.
Paul’s talk of putting sin to death is important not because it stops us getting to Heaven but because it stops us being examples and reflecting the fullness of life God is bringing forth right now. That is Heaven on Earth.
Jesus bringing in the new kingdom and defeating evil by the most humiliating way possible, suddenly becomes even more revolutionary when we realise God’s kingdom is brought forward not through violence but through peace.
The more I read the New Testament in this light the more I realise Jesus’ message is a sign to what He has promised, not only in the future but today. It is happening now. And we are called to respond.
Because right now, we’re not going anywhere.