I had an interesting conversation with someone this weekend. The first thing asked, as noting differences between traditional Baptist and Nazarene teachings, was the view of salvation.
Serendipitously, David Gushee, a Baptist minister, wrote in Christianity Today (see the article Jesus and the Sinner’s Prayer) about revisting the view of salvation.
While I find his questioning of whether or not we are saved once we accept Jesus interesting, it is his further musings about why we may not be that I find more interesting. He points to the possibility that these may be the requirement for being, and continuing to be, saved:
- Believe in Jesus
- Love God with all one’s heart
- Love one’s neighbor as oneself
- GIVE UP YOUR LIFE TO PICK UP THE CROSS THAT IS YOURS, BY GOD, TO CARRY.
Most of have heard of (1) and understand the need of fulfilling that requirement first. Loving God (2) at first seems easy, but continuing on through to items (3) and (4), it’s not so easy anymore. (3) in many ways seems difficult, but if we examine the parable of the Samaritan, perhaps it is not so intimidating. For the basic truth of that parable is to recognize that we are all travelers on the same road of life, recognizing the brotherhood that that is. The next part of it is compassion; help one another (which, in the Nazarene tradition, can be not doing something so that person does not sin, although there has to be some limit). Of course, there is a differing perspective on what is “helping”. I do not wish my fellow man to sin, so if I try to explain how their sin separates them from God, in truth, I am trying to help them, for I have no desire to see my fellow man in Hell. Should I get to Heaven, which I believe I will (but perhaps God will decide that I was a branch that needed pruning), I have no intention or desire to gloat over my fallen fellow man.
The last part of it is (4). For me this has been a struggle, as the cross that I believe God wants me to bear is to be a pastor. I have finally surrendered to this call, and feel some peace, but there is a lot of apprehension as this will eventually require a major life change for me and my family. I have said “no” for more than 8 years, but my pastor delivered a sermon that convicted me. He said, when we say “no” to God, we are more than just sinning, we are turning our back to God.
God wins, and eventually, I will, tool