The doctrine of justification by faith–a Biblical truth, and a blessed relief from sterile legalism and unavailing self-effort–has in our time fallen into evil company and been interpreted by many in such a manner as actually to bar men from the knowledge of God. The whole transaction of religious conversion has been made mechanical and spiritless. Faith may now be exercised without a jar to the moral life and without embarrassment to the Adamic ego. Christ may be `received’ without creating any special love for Him in the soul of the receiver. The man is `saved,’ but he is not hungry nor thirsty after God. In fact he is specifically taught to be satisfied and encouraged to be content with little. -A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
This past month or so, I’ve been trying to create a routine in which the last hour of my day is spent in the sweetness of silence. That doesn’t happen all too often in my life, so it’s an hour I’ve quickly begun to look forward to. This past week or two, I’ve been digging into The Pursuit of God, and, as is frequently the case with authors such as Tozer and C.S. Lewis, it’s been slow going, because there’s a lot of wisdom to be taken in. Plus, they don’t talk like people from the 21st century. A fact I absolutely love in its ability to slow me down and lose me in thoughtful consideration.
This particular passage kind of smacked me in the face, because it’s something my heart has been tossing around for a few months now, though much less eloquently than Tozer. This past August, I got the opportunity to go back to my hometown for one of the church camp services, which I haven’t done in years. It meant a lot to me, but at the same time it stirred up a lot of questions. As I was sitting there in the service, listening to the evangelist plead with the kids to accept salvation, a thought struck me. I am generally disgusted by the word “saved.” Not in the same way I’m disgusted by the word “ripe,” simply because it sounds gross. But because I hear it so many times. I’ve heard the word thousands of times in my 25 years in a religious context, and frankly? It has very little meaning for me.
See, I’ve known many people who have gotten “saved.” Many of them at a young age, only to find themselves later in life thinking, “What did that mean? What did it change? Nothing happened.” I’ve watched dozens of young people come to church or church camp, get saved, hit the door, and never move past that moment of “salvation.” Never find a personal meaning for it, because honestly? In my experience, that’s frequently all that’s preached. “Get saved…be a good person…go to Heaven.”
No. Absolutely not. Are we not missing the point here? I feel like when we reach the point where we believe salvation is primarily about being a good person and going to Heaven, we miss something vital in the heart of Christ. Where’s the passion, the yearning, the desiring God and the knowledge that He desires us.
More than ever before in my life, I desire to know and pursue the heart of Christ. And believe me, that is absolutely not a claim of perfection or having arrived in any way, shape, or form. As the dirty soil of God’s people goes, I’ve been dirtier than most care to know; still am, if you want brutal honestly. But I want more. I know there IS more. I know that in a million ways, big and small, Heaven comes to Earth on a daily basis, and I’m more anxious than ever to be a part of that. To be aware of it and to serve that purpose.
And I know I’m not alone in this. I know that there are others who are a part of the body of Christ who are aching to be more than a dormant part of what seems to be an irrelevant whole. Christ is just as relevant as He’s ever been. He’s just as real as He’s ever been. And I think it’s time for us to start acting like it. Living like He’s alive and well and moving and breathing, instead of acting like He was some great guy who wrote a nice book on how to be decent people.
That’s the not the end of the story.
I’m ready for a new chapter, for myself at least.