S-A-V-E-D

There’s an old gospel song that goes by that name. The first verse goes:

“Some folks jump and down all night and d-a-n-c-e, while others go to church to show brand new h-a-t. And, on their face, the put great gobs of p-a-i-n-t and then, they’ll have the brass to say they’re s-a-v-e-d.

Chorus: It’s g-l-o-r-y to know I’m that I’m s-a-v-e-d. I’m h-a-p-p-y because I’m f-r-e-e. I once b-o-u-n-d with the chains of s-i-n. But it’s v-i-c-t-0-r-y to know I’ve Christ within.

My, isn’t that filled with the grace of God. Back in the 30’s, when this song was popular, a case could be made that folks just didn’t know any better. But, for several reasons, that’s a cop-out, for several reasons. One, the scriptures that illuminate grace were written long before this song; two  In Ephesians 4:15, the apostle Paul urges us to speak the truth in love, which is a biblical way of saying “Don’t be a dick” and three, there are plenty of people today who act just like this. They seem to think Christianity is an exclusive club that requires you to look down your nose at all those rank outsiders and that salvation is the entry fee. They also seem to think all you have to do to be in is say the right prayer and believe the right things and that it’s like some sort of “Get out of jail free” card. I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the way it works.

My understanding of salvation and grace is that it opens the door to a new way of life; one in which love is the key. In this new life, becoming a Christian isn’t the last step it’s the first. John Wesley used a house as a metaphor for salvation and grace. Wesley said preveniant grace was the porch or entryway which invites us to come further; justifying grace as the door which, when opened, allows to come in and get to know the whole house (i.e. God) and sanctifying grace, where we live in the house and learn holy living. The first two, I never had a problem with; the third was another story. Mostly because the people I saw who used words like holy living where ones like the people in the song above. If that was holy living, I wanted no part of it.

Over the past couple of years, though, I’ve begun to get a handle on this holy living thing. Holy living means not being selfish and putting others first. It means feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the prisoner, welcoming the stranger and giving water to those who thirst. Holy living means following the example of Jesus all day, every day…, not just when it’s convenient. Holy living means following Jesus’ example especially when it’s not convenient. Holy living doesn’t mean hoarding wealth, persecuting foreigners, gossiping and crapping all over people who don’t have it as good as you. In other words, holy living is loving your neighbor as yourself. When we all start doing this, then we’ll have a start on bring the Kingdom to earth.