Monday, February 05, 2007

How many revisted

I posted this last week (or before) but kept thinking and so have a couple more paragraphs added.

I’ve been asked the question of “How many people have you brought to the Lord?” And my answer is none. That confuses the Christians (and some of them are Christianist) who ask the question. But the answer relates to my understanding of the task and purpose of each Christian. I cannot save anyone or bring him or her to Christ. That was done about 2000 years ago by the only human without sin. That is the human who is fully human and fully divine.

When I read passages such as John 3:16 my understanding is that salvation and redemption were done for the world. My task, my purpose is about spreading the good news of that salvation, but bringing someone to the Lord is what God does. I serve and enjoy the one who saves me. But since I cannot and could not save myself, it is the height of arrogance to believe that I can bring another to salvation.

And the numbers game, however played, is not what faith in Jesus – the one who is fully human and fully divine – is about. The Jesus I worship came to save the world. And that salvation was God’s gracious gift rather than anything I could do by myself for myself or for anyone else.

John 3:16 is often quoted as the verse about how God saves us. It is important to note that individual salvation is not mentioned here. The Son of God came to save the whole world and I’m included in that, but I’m not the one who does the saving. Paul talks of creation groaning as the change happens in the travails that are birth pangs. To limit salvation to one person at a time is to ignore what is happening all around us and in scripture. We are all part of the process.

That some people are saved and some are damned is a part of my belief. That I am being saved or damned is part of what is happening. Yet to suggest that I am saving someone or my lack of telling the good news is damning another is arrogance. It arrogates for myself power that belongs to God. I am not so bold as to do that.

God has given me gifts to use in service. My song and preaching have moved people to experience a closer relationship with God. Yet that song, that prayer, that sermon, that caring moment with a cup of cold water cannot and does not save another or bring them to belief. God has given me many gifts, but not the gift of salvation. Salvation is from God alone.
How many people have I saved? None. How many people have I told about the Savior? I don’t know. Do I tell the good news? Yes and I will continue to do so in this life and beyond.

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