Good Friday As Good News, Part VI

As I have been mentioning in the previous posts in this series, the meanings of the cross in the New Testament writings are many. They form a prism with all of the facets focusing on what God is doing through Jesus for the world. I believe that there are many meanings of the cross beyond those already mentioned. These include such facets as the cross as Warfare by God’s Warrior-Prince-of-Peace (or, Anti-Warfare by God’s Anti-Warrior); the cross as the great equalizer; the cross as God’s judgment on our religious, economic, and political institutions; the cross as a demonstration of human faithfulness at all costs; and the cross as ultimate human rebellion.

But I want to end this series with a brief look at one of the most commonly mentioned meanings of the cross—a meaning of the cross that needs to be redeemed for at least some of us: the cross described in terms of “being saved” and “salvation” and “Savior.”

It is terribly sad that “Are you saved?” has become the stereotyped way for people to make fun of the arrogance and judgmental attitudes of many Christians. This stereotype is unfortunately often quite deserved by us Christians. But, it does not capture the Biblical writers’ intent. The Biblical concept of “saved” is actually a beautiful and powerful concept.

In Biblical thinking, the concept of “salvation” includes “being valuable enough to be wanted,” “being salvageable – not beyond original potential,” “being made whole,” “being liberated,” “being healed,” and “being rescued.” These all sound like pretty wonderful things!

We use the word “saved” in our daily English usage with many of these positive contents. “That doctor saved my child’s life.” “Sully saved all of the passengers when he landed safely on the Hudson River.” The Civil Rights Movement helped save us from some of the worst effects of racial prejudices.” “Save the Planet.” “My wife Donna has over and over saved me from my tendency to be self-destructive and others-destructive; God blessed me with a savior.”

So, if you, like me, find yourself irritated and frustrated with the cheap use of “saved” as expressed in some Christian songs and by some Christian evangelicals and fundamentalists, I still urge you not to throw out the baby with the bath water.

You, our planet, our society, our nation, our church—we all need to be saved! We are far from being whole. We hurt others and we all carry what Marcus Borg calls “the wounds of our existence.” The international scene is incredibly precarious. The local scene is only slightly less so. The entire earth is groaning with climate change and with the desecration of our wastefulness. Asking for more healing and more wholeness and for liberation and rescue is a wonderful prayer.

And, don’t forget, if God wishes to save us that means we are worth saving, and we are salvageable—we can be saved, made whole, liberated, rescued, and healed. That is a high view of humans and of God’s love for us humans. So, maybe the following astounding promise can begin to be reclaimed by all of us:

John 3:14-17
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever trusts in him may have the life of the age to come. For God so loved the world that God gave his only Son, so that everyone who trusts in him may not perish but may have (Gr. present tense) the life of the age to come. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Sounds like a pretty good offer to me! Thank you God!

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As always, if you have any thoughts, comments, or questions about this post, or if there is another topic you would like me to explore in a future post, please leave a comment. I always enjoy your questions and thoughts.   / Ron

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