By Pastor Jeff Fox-Kline
On the third blog of Advent my pastor gave to me… A blog about salvation!
Every week in Advent this blog is coming to you where I (Pastor Jeff) am offering a humble reflection on the sermon topic from a couple days ago. As the Advent season unfolds, we have been exploring who Jesus is, and for this week we took a look at Jesus as our Savior.
This week is the first blog that I’m writing that is in the shadow of a sermon that I preached, so please forgive any overlap, but I can’t stop thinking about the twin dimensions of what we talk about when we talk about Jesus as our savior.
Jesus as our savior applies to us personally, and collectively. Jesus came to save me from my sins, and to save us from our sins. But these are tough pills to swallow, because we’re so far from deserving this. As an individual I’m constantly making mistakes, sometimes big ones, that would, in a truly just world, disqualify me. I see the extent of the damage that we do to each other, and if it were up to me, there would be no redeeming who we are.
But it’s not up to me. Phew.
Because we’re the beneficiaries of a salvation that we in no way deserve. This grace that God extends to us gives us a challenge. How can we see each other in the same way that God sees us? Our salvation being due to God’s grace means that God doesn’t see us as perfect little angels (God already has angels for that), but rather that God sees who we are and loves us regardless.
So here’s the challenge. How can we see people as the fallen, broken, sinful people we are, and still love them and give them grace that lets them know that we care about them? Us being saved means that we now have a responsibility. We’ve been given a gift, one that we have in no way earned. So the question becomes: how do we respond to this gift?
I firmly believe that the proper response to this gift is to look at all people through the eyes of God, as fallen and broken, but also as redeemed and redeemable. It means we pay special attention to the oppressed, the wounded and the vulnerable. To look at the world through the eyes of God is to say, “This is broken and unfixable. Let’s love it and try to fix it anyway."
This is a response that lives into what the 20th century theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer described as “costly grace," and I’ll leave you with a quote that I hope you will read over a few times:
“Costly grace is the sanctuary of God; it has to be protected from the world, and not thrown to the dogs. It is therefore the living word, the Word of God, which he speaks as it pleases him. Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus. It comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light.’”
So during Advent (and hopefully beyond), let’s submit to the yoke of Christ, acknowledging our salvation, and working for the redemption of the world. But let us also recognize that this work is easier, because it’s been done for us--we just have to open ourselves to what God has already revealed.