One time, when I was young and in Sunday school, someone taught me the diagram of the cross. There was an image, a stick person on one side, and a chasm in between him and in big capital letters, G-O-D. It was only with the cross, drawn in the chasm to create a bridge, that we could live in right relationship with God.
It was that famous napkin theology. The one you could draw easily in that moment of questioning, in the midst of the conversation with the stranger, who finally has seen the light and wants to be saved from their sin and hell.
And that is truth. It is truth that Jesus came to save us, in the only way possible, by dying on that cross and rising again so we could live in right relationship with Him.
But … I’m afraid in my speaking of salvation from hell, and in my understanding of the point of salvation to save us from hell … that I’ve missed the point.
That yes, Jesus came to save us from hell – but even moreso He came to make us whole.
He came to be the Lord of our life. He came to be the Lord of our finances, our health, our sexuality, our family, our thoughts, our dreams, our rest and our activity.
I fear that when we only preach the God who saves from the damnation of hell, we’re missing it. We let Him reside in that little box, the one where we can finally BREATHE, because goodness, life doesn’t end after this one, and we miss the greatest gift that He gave us.
Not an eternity spent outside of hell.
But Himself. Lord. God of all. The creator of Shalom. The One who, that every knee will bow, and tongue confess that Jesus. Christ. Is. Lord. The one we get to spend Eternity with!
I’m sorry if my words have reflected that really I just want to save you from hell. I’m sorry if my prayers have been prayers to save you from that dark afterlife.
And I’m sorry that my words haven’t reflected the One who changes my life and makes me whole. I’m sorry that my prayers for you have not always been that you would fall in love with Jesus and know the author and creator and sustainer of life.
I’m sorry. Because I’ve missed the point, and in doing so, may have caused you to miss the point, too. And I’m so sorry.
Because really, I want you to meet the one who whispers in the silence, the One who binds up the brokenhearted, the One who delights in me and paints beautiful moons and sunsets because He knows they make my heart dance. Really, I want you to meet the One who holds you close when others run away, and Who remains faithful when lies and destruction lay in rubble around you. I want you to meet the Author and Creator of Love – the One in whom all things hold together.
That’s the Gospel. That’s the gospel, a story of restoration, of hope, and of Life: Jesus.