Salvation (Matthew 19:16-30)

1vw9nb“For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible”. When we read these words in the context of the rich young man story we really see just how futile our efforts for salvation are. Jesus goes down the list of commandments with him and he says he’s kept them all: “I have kept all these”. He says “I”. Then the disciples chime in with, “then who can be saved?” Time and time again people are coming to Jesus asking what they must do to be saved. Time and time again Jesus responds by stating in some way that you can’t do anything to be saved. Salvation is the work of God, not our own.

I have yet to encounter a Christian church or denomination that denies the saving grace of God, yet at some point, we all seem to call out some kind of action, rite, or sacrament that we need to do “to be saved” or to be a “true Christian”. Whether it’s infant baptism, believer’s baptism, a confession of faith, some version of the “sinner’s prayer”, loving my neighbor, feeding the hungry, doing good to the “least of these”, or who knows what else, we all seem to arrive at something we need to do. I am in no way advocating passivity or complacency, but at what point do we really heed these words “for mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible” and stop trying to “be saved” and simply rest in the fact that God will take care of this. This is God’s job. Let God be God (a central theme in a parable all this is leading towards).

This is why Jesus’ seemingly smarmy response to the rich young man is “Why do you ask me what is good? There is only one who is good?” Meaning, “there is no good thing you can do. Only God can do the good thing.” Our need to quantify and control salvation does not let God be God, but furthermore, it keeps us from being who we are supposed to be and doing the thing God expects of us: love one another.  When we quantify and control what one must do to be saved, we enter into judgement, not love. That does not mean we don’t hold people accountable to their actions, but the accountability should come out of a desire to keep someone from hurting one’s self, another, or the world. Accountability should not come out of salvation issues.

So let’s forget about salvation. Yes, I said it. Let’s forget about salvation. It’s not up to us. It’s impossible for us, Jesus says. So let’s let God do it. And let’s simply rest in the goodness of God, and seek to see people and the world as God sees them: Precious. Beloved. Worthwhile. Beautiful. Loved by God.

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