Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Could it really be that simple?

[A note to early readers - for some reason, this post didn't get completely posted early this morning. Check out the end...]

It's always interesting to look at a faith tradition or denomination, and to figure out the salvation quotient: what must I do to be saved?

One group says you have to be perfectly sorry for all your sins, confessing them and repenting of all those icky behaviors. Some will add that wonderful sinner's prayer as a precursor to receiving one's get-out-of-hell card.

In the Lutheran tradition, there is almost always a reference to 1 John chapter 1, verses 8-9: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Of course, Mark 16:16 is even more open: The one who believes and is baptized will be saved. The downside to that little gift is that in some churches, it takes six months of classes, elaborate robes, and a ceremony on Easter Vigil complete with anointing with oil in order to be baptized....hmmm. Maybe that's not such a bargain, after all.

The reason that this is all interesting is that there is one group of people who were forgiven by Christ without any of this. This is a group who heard the Gospel straight from Jesus' own mouth, and not only did not believe, they rejected it and Jesus himself. They prayed no prayer, were never sprikled with water nor dunked nor were they taken to the river-side. No penance, no repentance, no nothing. They lived their sinful times, commiting the ultimate blasphemy against Christ, and yet they really were forgiven:
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
They were ignorant; they were stubborn; they were violent. Yet the folks that Jesus had the most right to hate - the ones that killed him - were the ones he forgave.

What would happen if we started living that kind of Christ-like walk of forgiveness? Not waiting for people to repent; not waiting for the sprinkling of water or anything else, but just forgiving them?

Just wondering.


Nick said...

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. John 6:56

Keith Brenton said...

Steve, I think we've come to the same conclusion: being like Jesus is right at the center of it all. (See my post The Gift of Baptism for a view from inside a different fellowship. Are you still pondering my invitation to blog at What Would Jesus Do Next?

planetbaldy said...

well said sir

Anonymous said...

Beautifully put, Steve. You often touch me deeply with the thoughtful way you express your insights. (Your denomination may not have ordained you to minister, but you certainly do minister the grace and love of God to people like me). Of course, your post raises a further question beyond the way we should respond to one another: it causes us to wonder, "Was the prayer of Jesus, 'Father forgive them for they know not what they do' answered?" And, if it was answered, is that the prayer that Jesus prays for every other sinner? Are we all forgiven, not by our baptism, not by our faith, not by our expressions of piety, but through the One who paid our price in order that might be saved? Amazing Grace!!

Mitch said...

Of course it was answered, Jesus prayed it!


I like the post Steve.