As uncomfortable as it may sound it’s just impossible for me to be saved. Of course, that begs the question “What do you mean by ‘saved’?” And that is the question, isn’t it?
In my old way of thinking being saved meant not going to hell when I died. Or, to put a more positive spin on it, going to heaven when I died.
But the more I learn about the fullness of the Faith, the more I see that this is simply too small. And it misses the point completely. The main reason it does is that this idea of being “saved,” if you notice, the focus is all on me!
Look at our lesson today in Mark 10:24-32:
The Lord said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for these who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” Peter began to say to him, “Lo, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many that are first will be last, and the last first.” And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid.
Our Lord is talking to His disciples about being saved in regards to people who are rich. And the disciples are amazing at His words because a very popular notion in that day (and in this day as well) was that a wealthy person is wealthy BECAUSE God favors that person. Jesus stands this wrong thinking on its head and says the exact opposite. It’s hard for a rich person to be saved.
But then the Lord adds “all things are possible with God.”
Of course, Peter pipes up and begins to “remind” the Lord all he and the other disciples have given up to follow Christ, and the Lord responds that to give up everything for God isn’t really a loss at all because what we gain by following Christ is always more than anything we may leave behind, even our earthly relationship!
It’s beginning to dawn on the followers of Jesus that what He means by “saved” and what they thought it meant is completely different. They thought (and many today think) it means their own comfort or tranquility. But what the Lord means by “saved” is something much more profound and deep. Jesus means to tell them and us that “being saved” is actually the reordering of our lives and attitudes and priorities to focus exclusively on the work of God in our lives to make us like Himself. And that means the uncomfortable humility of learning what God is like.
The eternal life Jesus promises to those who embrace this reordering of their lives, loves, and perspectives are nothing less than the intimate connection to Life Himself – God. And that connection, that embrace, is truly Good News. Because this “saved” is true salvation that will make it possible for you and me to “become, by grace, what Christ is by nature.” And it is simply foolish to expect this radical invitation can be exhausted by “going to heaven” or “not going to hell.” And because of this amazing invitation, there will be those who looked like they were “first” end up being “last” and those who everybody thought was “last” at the head of the line!
Today, what is impossible for you and me IS possible with God. God loves you and He has made every grace available to you to give you the access to this incredible shift in your life away from death and toward true life. When you enter you’ll discover a life bigger and fuller than anything you could ever imagine. That’s what it means to be Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. Dear Lord, You are the Only Savior for humanity! Making myself a better person isn’t what I truly need to be and to stay connected to You, the Only source of Life. I confess, Lord, that what I desperately need is to humble myself and trust completely in Your Love, Grace, and Strength. You are my only salvation and being in communion with You is True Life. Amen