“In our world, something is terribly wrong and cries out to be put right.” This thought, though written by a theologian, is more often expressed in our day by poets and playwrights and novelists and musicians.
Hunger and poverty haven’t gone away. Powerful celebrities assault women. The climate gets warmer. Marriages break up. Religion divides people. Politics can’t get any uglier (at least we hope not).
But it’s not just the world. Something is terribly wrong in me. I’m afraid, alone, aging, arrogant, anxious. And I haven’t even gotten to the B words yet.
You can divide the mess that is my life into two categories: problems outside of me and problems inside of me. Problems outside of me are problems that involve my job, my relationships, my bank account, my neighborhood, my nation—even my health. The problems inside of me have names like ego, addiction, insatiable desire, envy, coldheartedness, and deceit.
- K. Chesterton wrote, “Whatever else men have believed, they have all believed that there is something the matter with mankind.” Here, surprisingly, we find a great consensus. Freud and Plato, Karl Marx and Ralph Nader, Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi and Jesus all agree with this—something is terribly wrong with us and cries out to be put right.
Being saved always involves being both saved from something and saved for something. We are saved for shalom—a flourishing life with God. What are we saved from?
Salvation as described in the Bible is about our being rescued from the whole chaotic mess that is our existence. There is no category of human need that God doesn’t want to redeem. But it’s the inner disorder of persons that the biblical writers say is our deepest problem. We are saved from brokenness, or death, or guilt, or wrath, or hell. We are saved from what we might otherwise become. We are saved—I know it sounds archaic—from evil.
John Ortberg, Eternity Is Now in Session: A Radical Rediscovery of What Jesus Really Taught about Salvation, Eternity, and Getting to the Good Place (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Momentum, 2018).
I have just completed a series of lessons on the theme of Eternity Is Now In Session. They are available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions, as well as part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription service. For a medium-sized church, lesson subscriptions are only $10 per teacher per year.