Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;
Let those who love Your salvation say continually,
“The Lord be magnified!”
Since I am afflicted and needy,
Let the Lord be mindful of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
Do not delay, O my God. (Psalm 40:16-17)
Salvation. It’s a big word that gets tossed around in Christian circles. Outside those circles, there’s not only confusion but irritation and anger that anyone would declare he or she knows how to get salvation or that it’s even needed. After all, some think, who really needs to be saved? Saved from what? If life is going pretty well, if we can figure it out pretty well on our own, why need salvation?
It’s difficult in this “I can do it” culture to share the need for salvation, because we’re taught to be independent, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, be able to stand on our own two feet, and not have to rely on anyone. It’s a farce. We can’t do it all on our own—not everyday life and not eternal life. If we can pay our bills, get what we deem needs to get done, and basically be responsible citizens of society, we think we’re achieved independence. But we work alongside people, and we shop in stores. We rely on someone to make, and often fix, our cars, not to mentioned building the infrastructure to drive on them. We didn’t build our own houses or workplaces. We don’t grow all our own food. We’re interdependent on others.
If we need to be able to depend on others, we want them to depend on us, too, so we focus on the relationships in our lives and do good. We help others when we can. We encourage others. We share our time and resources with others. We become good people. So, now we’re dealing with independence, dependence, dependability, generosity, goodness…and we think we’re covered.
But why? What’s the purpose?
Even when we seem to be able to handle our lives physically, emotionally, and socially, we’re paying little or no attention to our spiritual selves. Christians do it, too. Many Christians today are not unlike the Pharisees, who went through all the motions and did the “right” things but didn’t fully live their lives as God intends.
We miss out on something when we shut God out, whether we close the door to Him in our lives as a whole or just pick and choose various portions of our lives. The truth is He’s central to and in our lives whether we acknowledge Him or not. He also knows that the goal of our lives is not to be independent people—it’s not even possible—but to be dependent on Him. Yes, we’re still responsible; He makes sure of it. But we stand with Him, not on our own.
We need God. We need Him for salvation, because He knew that our sin would be the end of us. Sin, not in the “things I think I’ve done wrong,” but sin in the truth of what doesn’t match up to what God says and knows I can and must become and do. Sin and salvation aren’t about legalism. It’s not about maintaining a set of rules, although there are rules that help us with basic structure. Sin and salvation are about a relationship with and provision from God. It’s about acknowledging who He is, how He created us, what we need, what He desires, and what He sacrificed. It’s central to everything that has to do with our lives. Nothing is outside our relationship with God.
Salvation isn’t just the “something in the future” life. It’s not just about whether you end up in heaven or hell. It’s provision for life right now. It’s relationship with God right now. It’s the recognition that “You’re God. I’m not. I need you. Help me know You. Guide me in how to live a worthy life.” It’s humility. And it’s worth every moment of sacrifice.
Dear God, I need You. Even when I try to withhold or hide something from You, even when I try to do things on my own, I long for You. There are gaps in my life that only You can fill, and I know there are some gaps that You intend to fill even though they seem full to me. I’ve filled my life with other things. Oftentimes, I’ve filled my life with myself. Sure, I think I’m helping others along the way, but when I’m honest, I’m doing it for my own reasons, not for Yours. Restore in me a passion, a love, for Your ways. Help me to see my needs and Your salvation every day throughout my life.