Updated: Dec 20, 2021
How long has it been since you heard a good salvation message from a Christian preacher in any kind of venue, church or otherwise?
This question is bound to get a mix of different responses. Some may say “hours,” others "days" or "weeks." Or "years." And still others may say “I have no idea what you’re even asking.”
I’m counting on about half my readers to offer up that last answer. And for the very reason sited in their answer.
Most Christian preachers I follow these days have no idea what their audience is even asking.
I may have lost some of you right there. Hello. Hello? Are you still with me?
Salvation is one of those words that implies something of an answer in response to a question. Or something of a solution in response to a problem. Yet within most Christian communities today I hear the word “salvation” being used with only one question in mind: “Where will I spend eternity?” The trouble being that no one I know, and I happen to be an old preacher myself, asks me that question unless they face some terminal illness.
Maybe I’m also the odd preacher who rarely hears people asking me this question, and maybe I’m not hearing folks correctly who are gathering……or not gathering…….for Christian worship these days. Maybe I’m all out of tune and everybody but me is waking up at 3 in the morning with the question in mind of “where will I spend eternity?”
Being both a preacher and a psychotherapist, I can affirm that a good many people these days are kept awake at night by one or more questions for which they do need an answer. A lot of people out there, and a good many pew-sitters within church sanctuaries and the like, are missing sleep at one end or the middle of many nights for lack of answers to their most pressing question. Maybe it has to do with their job? Finances? Marriage? Their kids? Their parents? Their friends? Their enemies? School? Health? Safety? Food? Shelter? The neighborhood? The city, state, nation? The planet?
I know there are things keeping people awake at night, and I know most of these people aren’t in therapy even if they need be. But they’re somewhere. And I happen to believe they’re where Jesus would be if he were, and I know he is, alive in today’s world. Doing what he always did and always will do.
Healing. Helping. Proclaiming liberty for the oppressed, good news for the poor, love for frightened sinners, and hope for the lost, the last, and the least. In other words: offering salvation.
When in Matthew 10 and Luke 10 Jesus sent his disciples out into the world to be the church, it wasn’t to help people figure out where they’d spend eternity, or did I read it wrong? Didn’t Jesus send us out to do the same thing he'd been doing all along?
If there is a major disconnect today between the church and the world, then I have to wonder. Is it because the world stopped listening to the church, or could it be that the church stopped listening to the world? Is it because half the world’s people have no idea what the word “salvation” is even supposed to mean? Or might it be because the church has no idea what that word is even supposed to mean for those who are awake at all hours and waiting for answers to life's real problems and questions?
Whatever became of salvation?
Maybe that’s the question that is keeping Jesus awake at night.