Saving ourselves or saving the world?


Wow! It’s been a month and a half since I’ve blogged. A big work project hit at the same time as a bunch of church planning meetings, and I went spiraling out of the blogosphere for awhile there. Sorry folks, I’m slipping.

I’m still reading Chuck Coulson’s book, How Now Shall We Live? Yes, a month and a half later, I’m still reading the same book. Gimme a break…it’s over 600 pages. Plus, I’m really trying to absorb every page. It is one of the most thoughtful treatises on Christianity I’ve ever come across, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to explore more deeply what a Christian worldview is all about.

One of the recurring themes of Coulson’s book is that of cultural redemption. That the Gospel message is much, much more than just the good news of personal salvation. That it’s really about redeeming all of God’s work. The notion that more than just humanity was affected by the Fall…that our sin really cracked the entirety of Creation.

Now, without going down the road of HOW that all makes sense (hey, read the dang book!), I’ve really been captivated by this notion that the Gospel is really about redeeming the whole of Creation. That’s not to say it’s NOT about personal salvation, because it clearly is. John 3:16 boils it down nicely:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Clearly, Jesus came to save us each from our sin and offer us each the gift of eternal life. But read on a little further and you see the message going a little deeper:

(17)For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him….
(19)This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

So we see that Jesus came to save the WORLD and to bring light to the WORLD. Not just to individuals, you see, but to all of Creation. Because we as humans are inextricably linked to the rest of God’s handiwork. He created us to be in fellowship with him and to run this universe he created for him. Our Fall fractured a moral order that ran not only through our psyches, but through everything he created.

So the question is, are we just trying to save ourselves, or are we trying to save the world? If we’re just trying to save ourselves so we can sit comfortably in church on Sundays and sing the songs we like, listen to the sermons we like to hear, and wait for our ticket to heaven to get punched, we’re missing something critical in the message.

You see, I think the transformational power of Jesus goes far beyond our personal salvation. When people are changed, they have two choices: rest on their laurels and celebrate, or try to change other people. I think the Bible’s pretty clear about that one. As Greg Stier of Dare2Share ministries often says of Matthew 28:19 (the Great Commission), “It’s not called the Good Suggestion.” Jesus doesn’t say, “Now you’re saved, enjoy yourself. You’ve got nothing to worry about.” He says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” Notice he doesn’t say all people. He says all nations. Are we talking about individual salvation here, or cultural salvation?

It seems to me that whan people are transformed, they have the opportunity to transform culture. And by transforming culture, we begin to really and truly change the world.

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2 thoughts on “Saving ourselves or saving the world?

  1. Hey Joe, have you read Brian McLaren’s “A New Kind of Christian” yet? You will either love it or hate it, but there are some interesting ideas about the kind of world God created, how we (including the church) have messed up, and what we as Christians are called to do about it from this day forward… living as if the gospel makes a difference.

    Let me know if you pick up this book. It is the first in a triology.

  2. Hi Peggy,

    I’ve been listening to McLaren on a couple of Fermi Project podcasts and look forward to reading his book. I am intrigued by his ideas on inclusiveness.

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