I love to write about what salvation means, and have written previously about the human trinity, capacity and opportunity, freedom and the Kingdom of God. This article brings these concepts together again and looks at how salvation changes us, providing the fuel needed by our decision engine.
In so many ways, what we believe about ourselves frames what we believe about God and his Good News to transform us and liberate us. Salvation implies leaving the old behind, and embracing the new; that’s the transformation. It also implies Freedom, as we were captives before, and now we are free; that’s the liberation.So, what is the context of this change, or, Who Am I? And then what is this transformation and liberation, or, What Changes? If we can answer these two questions we can get to the heart of Freedom, the very purpose of the Good News.
Who Am I?
We are each a trinity of intellect, emotions and spirit. We are created by God in his image, as points of spiritual light that represent a life of great value, individuality, potential, capacity and opportunity in the eyes of God our maker and father. Our father longs for us, seeking and calling us, and desiring most of all to establish a meeting of his trinity, with ours. A meeting of the minds, an understanding of thoughts and emotions, and a joining of spirits. In other words, intimacy and relationship.
We also know that we are not God. Relative to God, we are the clay, and he is the supreme sculptor. But interestingly, God has fashioned us to be something like himself, in that we are also creative beings, who are given significant opportunities and responsibilities during this life, and we must use all of our capacity of mind, soul and spirit to make important decisions that have lasting consequences. Basically, God made us with fantastic Decision Engines that can weigh facts, feelings and spiritual direction to make decisions. With these decisions, we can properly navigate through life. Every step we take or task we do, like operating a motor vehicle, working at our job, relating to a spouse, raising children, engaging in friendships, and caring for others, requires a complex balance of decisions. These decisions involve weighing many complex rules, potential outcomes, numerous ideas and feelings, our sense of rightness, and our understanding of ourselves and of God. With these moment-by-moment decisions, we apply our creativity and help create the society in which we live.
These decisions directly bring either good things or bad things into the world. A couple is married with children and they have a fight. In one scenario, the man hits his wife. In that moment, evil is brought into the world that will have eternal consequences: on his marriage, on the children, on the man himself as he deals with what he has done and maybe hits her even more easily the next time. In another scenario, the man restrains himself out of love. He checks his rage and listens to his other senses. In the end he loves his wife and comes to reconciliation. Good things are brought into the world, the relationship is nurtured, the children are secure in their family, and the man himself ascends along the path of maturity.
God intends that we grapple with difficult scenarios, and that we choose good over evil. He fully equipped us everything we need to bring beauty and good things into the world. Some people think we are awful, base beings with no concept of God (until God saves us), but I disagree. We all have the capacity to choose, and many of us put that capacity to good use. In fact, we each have a spiritual nature that God created, and which he uses to show us the way. If this were not the case, we would never come to him, never believe in him, and never love at all. Our spirit, is in fact a connection to God. God is calling, and longs for us to respond to him with all of our being.
Our decision engine needs but one fuel: truth. If we have it, we can make good decisions. Without it, we flounder as we struggle to make choices using false information.
The Good News is the work of Jesus Christ. The incarnation, when God became man and invaded the space of man, a collision of creation and creator. The Good News is also the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of Christ, which remains at work in our world, creating the Kingdom of God through you and me. This kingdom was the staple message of Jesus as he preached, and was heralded by John the Baptist and the old testament prophets before him. This kingdom was promised to Abraham, as a blessing to the entire world that would come through Abraham’s children (and his ancestor Jesus in particular). This invasion is the change agent. It is the game changer. It is the opportunity for us to meet God where we live and work, so that the collision of human and divine, becomes reality in our daily lives. The incarnation in progress.
This changes us. By simply responding to God’s call to us, joining his kingdom, and engaging with the Spirit of Christ, we are transformed. We start to see how our being, our human trinity, connects to God’s gigantic plan to bring good things into the world. Like Saul on the road to Damascus, our eyes our opened to what we could not see before. Truth becomes our new reality. The truth feeds our decision engine, and opens up all the possibilities for us to create good things that really matter. This is how the Kingdom of God is built: one decision at a time.
This also liberates us. Connected to the source of all truth, we are set free to create, to build, to navigate life’s choices, to relate to others. Though we always had Free Will, and were free to choose good or evil, armed with truth and guided by God’s spirit at work in us, we are liberated from traps and consequences of ill choices. Because our eyes have been opened, we see the traps. We understand the consequences. We care about the outcomes. Of course, we still have all the same opportunity for evil and will stumble, usually because we listen to the foolish talk of self-gratification for a moment, but with God’s guidance we always have the map. We can open it up and see clearly where we really want to go. Like the man that refrains from hitting his wife, because he sees the life he really wants to build, we are able to restrain our selfish desires and chart a path toward maturity.