A few weeks ago, I attended a conference about anabaptism and church mission. My favorite speaker was Meghan Good. Meghan is the pastor at Albany Mennonite Church. Meghan’s presentation was so insightful that I’ll probably write a number of posts inspired by quotes from it. Here’s one:
“Salvation doesn’t pull us out of the storm, but into the heart of it.”
That’s good, right? If I had one takeaway from the conference this is it.
More importantly, if I had to sum up how I want to follow Jesus, I think this would be a big part of the conversation.
Meghan’s statement questions: “Is salvation the ultimate goal of following Jesus?”
Most Christians would probably say yes. And I don’t think that that is selfish. I believe a lot of Christians are genuinely as concerned with the salvation of others as they are with their own salvation. And I think that speaks to a level of human compassion that is admirable and deserves credit.
However, I do think we Christians tend to look at salvation the wrong way. I’m certainly not saying that there is no heaven or anything like that. What I’m saying is that when we become totally preoccupied with what happens after death, we are missing the point of living, we are asking the wrong questions, and this doesn’t allow us to fully follow Jesus.
I think its pretty important that the gospel tells the story of God coming to Earth to live among men, not of men going to heaven to live with God. The bible isn’t about what happens to us when we die. It’s about how we are supposed to live.
Meghan’s presentation started with the story of Peter walking on water. Do you remember it? Its at the end of Matthew 14. Basically, the disciples are on a boat, and that night Jesus walks out onto the water towards the boat, but the disciples are afraid because they think Jesus is a ghost. And Jesus tells them to chill out because it’s just him. Peter says to Jesus, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus does, and Peter steps out of the boat and onto the water.
So often, we think of salvation as the boat, the feeling of safety, the place of refuge. But Peter shows us that salvation isn’t about a place or safety. It’s not about staying dry, but about getting our feet wet.
You may remember that for a moment, Peter loses faith. He begins to sink, and Jesus saves him. Salvation isn’t something that happens when we die. It happened 2000 years ago with Jesus on the cross, and it continues to happen to us constantly. Salvation doesn’t provide us with the comfort of knowing that one day we will be gone from this mess we call the world. It galvanizes us to continue working to clean up this mess we call the world.
Another quote from Meghan: “To Peter, the most defining thing about Jesus is when he says, ‘come do as I do’ and makes that doing possible.” It’s a understanding of Jesus that we should strive for as well. It demonstrates both Jesus’ call for us to follow him by living like him, but also how Jesus equips us so we can have the faith to do that following.
The conversation about Jesus shouldn’t be about meeting him in heaven, but meeting him in the hungry, the thirsty, the strange, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned.
The conversation about his love shouldn’t be about how we have received Jesus’ love, but how we love others like Jesus.
Is salvation the ultimate goal of following Jesus ? I say no. Following Jesus is the ultimate goal of salvation.
Emmett Eldred is a sophomore Creative Writing; Professional Writing; and Ethics, History, and Public Policy Major at Carnegie Mellon University. His passions include reading about, writing about, and snuggling with pugs. Emmett is the founder of DunkerPunks.com, and he wants lots more people to contribute! Fill out a Dunker Punks profile, and join the conversation! Follow Emmett on twitter @emmetteldred and follow Dunker Punks on Twitter @DunkerPunks and on Facebook.
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