Salvation is a word with multiple meanings. What does salvation mean in the Christian context? For some it is about a ticket out of this world. A number of years ago the Gaither Vocal Band captured this understanding of salvation in their song Build an Ark. For them salvation was about gathering all their friends and family and escaping an increasingly evil world. Lately I have begun to wonder if this is why Jesus came to earth. Did Jesus die on the cross so that we could get a ticket off this planet? For most of my life this has been my understanding of the purpose of Christmas and Easter, a way out and off.
When one takes a second and third look at the message of Jesus, I am not sure that the salvation as escape definition works. Jesus calls us to be salt and light; that sounds a whole lot like a call to make the world a better place. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray it included words about the kingdom coming, about God’s will being accomplished, on earth as it is in heaven. Again this is not escape language.
Salvation is not always about escape, sometimes it’s about transformation, redemption and renewal. The afterlife and the hope that it brings is an important part of the Christian faith, but it is not the only hope that we have. We, who call ourselves Christians, are called to be agents of change, right here right now.
Salvation is about bringing peace where there is war. Reconciliation where there is quarrelling. Joy where there is sadness. Togetherness where there is separateness.
Salvation is about caring for creation. It includes living in such a way that we reduce our consumption of the world’s resources, that we choose reusing instead of throwing away and recycling over wasting.
When salvation is only about escape form this world, we misunderstand why Jesus came as a baby in the manger.