Some Theses on the Church in North America Today (7)
7. Salvation can be rightly appreciated (and embodied!) only where the sin and disorder of creation and creatures are fully grasped (see #6). “Far as the curse is found,” as the hymn writer puts it. Against the backdrop of cosmic disorder through sin God intends a cosmic salvation through Christ to put all things back as they should have been (that’s righteousness in biblical parlance; Col.1:20; Rom.8:18-30).
a. Such salvation entails both reclamation and restoration. Through forgiveness we are reclaimed by God and restored to our primal dignity and vocation as God’s image-bearers, his royal priests in the temple of his creation.
b. Unfortunately, we have tended to forget the restoration part and see salvation as only reclamation (personal forgiveness of sins and going to heaven as a consequence).
c. Thus we think of ourselves and others as only forgiven sinners whereas the biblical story treats us as restored image-bearers who take up their rightful vocations again.
d. And that vocation is serving as God’s royal representatives who reflect his character and will throughout creation and priests who guide and nurture the creation in its growth to full flourishing and voicing its voiceless praise of the creator.
e. Even worse, we treat others only as sinners in need for forgiveness (which they are) instead of wayward image-bearers and royal priests who have forfeited their proper identity and vocation whom God wants to restore.
f. Think of the difference it makes to think of those you meet as those God wants to restore and not just reclaim. You might reread the last section of C. S. Lewis’ great sermon “The Weight of Glory” to feel the power of this way of thinking. Our presentation of the gospel out to reflect this “wider” view of salvation. I’ll say more about that in later post on evangelism.