This first Sunday in Lent I begin my sermon series on our Lenten theme, “Saving Grace.” This series is all about salvation. What does the word mean? Saved from what? Saved for what? I begin with a sermon I’ve entitled “Salvation is This-Worldly.” Too often, salvation is conceived only in an “other-worldly” sense and in the future tense; in other words, it is something that happens when you die. But that leaves out much of what the scriptures have to say about salvation. Salvation is very much in the present tense and in the present world.
Sunday, we’ll read John 3:1-8, 16-17. In this passage of scripture, Nicodemus is visiting Jesus, and Jesus talks about being born anew — or being “born from above.” He uses an image of the wind that blows where it will, speaking very much in the present tense. Salvation is not just for the hereafter, but very much and even more so for the here and now.
When we make salvation one-dimensional, other-worldly, and put off to some future time, then it begs the question of what difference it makes in terms of how we live and experience life now. Most of the passages in the Bible that have to do with salvation have much to do with what it means for this life.
In the Hebrew Scriptures — what we commonly call the Old Testament in Christian circles — the concept of an afterlife is largely absent, yet there are powerfully rich images of salvation found throughout. The New Testament also speaks consistently of salvation as a present reality. For example, when the Gospel of John talks about eternal life, it is expressed as a quality of life that begins in the present and extends beyond death. For John, eternal life is in the present: We enter eternal life not just after we die, but when we become followers of Jesus and place our trust there.
Salvation that is this-worldly is all about transformation — about change that can happen in our life right now — not just “someday,” but today. I look forward to exploring this exciting facet of salvation with you on Sunday as we enter this season of Lent together — and deeply explore the meanings and images of salvation. It is my prayer that this season of Lent will be transformational in our lives.
Grace and Peace,
For a complete schedule of our Lenten worship, study, and contemplative opportunities, click here or pick up a printed Lent brochure in the Main Office or Welcome Center.