“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8
This week I’m writing about the top 5 things I’m thankful for and we’ve come to number 3 – Salvation. I worked as a life guard one summer at a camp. During that summer I had several rescues. Some rescues were quite easy. I simply called out to the child and said “STAND UP.” Once the child realized they could stand on their own with their head above water they were fine. There were a few, however, that were not as easy where the child was really drowning and powerless to help himself or herself. There was no other way to save them except to jump in the water, grab them, and pull them to safety – to do for them what they could never do for themselves.
I wonder if we really understand which sort of salvation the bible says is necessary for us. Do we just need to learn a little more, try a little harder, and have God help us a little bit so that we can then go on our way or are we desperately hopeless, drowning and powerless to save ourselves?
As a pastor I want to help people. I want to encourage them and keep them involved in church. It becomes easy to want to change the message of the bible to simply a message of encouragement – like saying “STAND UP” – so that people will feel good about themselves and go on their way enjoying life. But yelling “stand up” to a child who is in over their head in water and completely without any hope of helping themselves would be disastrous. Sure we could give tips and encouragement and the child might look better as they drowned, but they would still drown.
The salvation I am thankful for is not just guidance in my life to help me “STAND UP”. It is not just encouragement to make me feel a bit better about myself. No, it is the understanding that I was desperately lost and hopeless. In my sin I had made myself an enemy of God and rebelled against his authority. I was choosing death over life and I was drowning.
And God, as the best guard of life ever, did not merely shout tips or life hints to me. He did not just give me a list of things to do better and hope that I would get it sorted out. He sent his son, Jesus, to take all of my sin, my rebellion, my death on himself. Then Jesus rose from the dead and offered me eternal life. This is salvation for which I can take no credit. I cannot boast about my ability to get myself out of the tough situation for I could not. I cannot brag about my ability to better myself because that would never have been enough. No, all boasting or bragging is worthless. The only thing I can do is accept and give thanks.
photo by flickr user heather