Continuing on from yesterday’s post on salvation, a popular question among some Christian circles is “are you saved?” This really is a bad question. For one thing, it implies that salvation is some kind of destination or status that needs to be checked off in life.
Just thinking about salvation for a minute, it is easy to see how this is a bad understanding. For those who would say yes to that question, it is more of a dynamic state. We were saved 2000 years ago with Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. We are being saved every day from sin in our lives, since we all have to fight against sin and temptation. And we will be saved when time is no more and there is a new heaven and new earth, at the final judgment. To try and box in this kind of reality into one past event in our lives with the question “are you saved?” is to be overly simplistic. The faith is simple, but not simplistic.
But even more than the time frame issues with salvation, there is an even better question which needs to be asked. If someone is a Christian then we can expect them to answer some form of the are you saved question with a yes, but the better question all around is For what purpose are you saved?
God called Abraham so that he would be a blessing to the whole world. God called David to set up a line out of which Jesus would come. Jesus called the 12 Apostles and all his Disciples to be witnesses to the world. We are called for the sake of those outside the Church. In our salvation, we have become “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for [God’s] own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus sums up the Beatitudes with the admonition that we are to be salt and light. Both of these images are for the benefit of others. Salt is not salty for its own sake. It staves off decay and adds spice to something else; in this case the world. Light vanquishes the darkness so others can see. The purpose for which we are saved is for the sake of someone else.
When we ask the question are you saved? it keeps the focus on something that happened in our lives in the past, and it keeps the focus on our lives. The question For what purpose are you saved? reminds us that it is not for our own sake that we have this blessing, but it is for the sake of others. And in that way we emulate Jesus, who was always speaking, teaching, acting, dying, and rising for the sake of others: us. May we truly be like him.