Years ago I worked with a man whose native language was Selfdeceitish. He once boasted how he stunned a client silent with his “brilliant analysis.” (His words.) But the client told me they were dumbfounded at my co-worker’s astonishing incomprehension of their concerns. Worse than ships passing in the night, they were sailing a storm in the Atlantic while my co-worker’s counsel offered surfing tips for the waves off Maui.
He habitually embellished the value of his contributions at work, church, and with his family.
But he was also a sympathetic person, caring for anyone in emotional pain, and he spoke of the cross to everyone he met. However, a decade ago he adopted the belief that “everyone goes to heaven no matter what,” and he stopped speaking of the cross (because salvation was automatic), and he became the next Billy-Graham-evangelist for Universalism.
I puzzled long and hard about how to connect my friend’s deep insecurity with his embroidered boasts of accomplishments and his rejection of orthodox Christianity. Then, two months ago, I read a young author’s self-analysis of his own writing and the puzzle pieces began to form a picture.
The aspiring author said his writing had deteriorated badly, but he couldn’t admit its defects because he desperately needed it to be good. So he lied to himself. Then in a “brilliant analysis” (my words) he came to the realization that …
“The quality of my writing had become the measure of my life.”
Salvation from What?
Scripture claims that after the fall, all of life collapsed into moral, physical, and spiritual decay. Brotherly loved mutated into Abel’s assassination, spring showers became hurricanes, and humanity’s connection with God was amputated. Every corner of creation began to crumble.
The answer to the fall (our lives east of Eden) is salvation. We think of salvation as a stairway to heaven, but Scripture says we need deliverance from all of the fall’s effects. The psalms cry out for rescue from marauding enemies, plagues, and depression. But the psalms also warn that the weapons of this world cannot save us from the effects in this world:
The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue. (Ps. 33:6-7)
Every human heart is desperately trying to achieve salvation from what causes them the most suffering. Christians do not turn to Buddhas and Baals for salvation to a heavenly life, but we do turn to pop-psychology for redemption in this earthly life.
My coworker sought emotional deliverance through the exaggeration of his contributions, and the author’s brilliant line captures that sense perfectly when he reflected, “The quality of my writing had become the measure of my life.”
That is, his salvation was found in the bravado of his fictitious self-worth.
Salvation to What?
My friend quit evangelizing because he equated salvation with eternal life. But God is interested in more than an unending succession of minutes and hours. True redemption is a depth of life not only an extension. That’s why Jesus says, “This is eternal life, to know You.”
My father was a pastor who repeatedly claimed his life’s call was to “Introduce Christians to Christ.” He said too many believers know about God, maybe even know theology about God, but don’t know God. Their lives are not enriched with the life-delighting joy of knowing Him.
Without rich knowledge of Him, we look to the world’s “great armies and war horses” for the redemption of our insecurities, anxieties, traumas, and egos. We are splashing in mud puddles while God invites us to sail (and surf) the sea. This side of heaven. That’s why Isaac Watts wrote:
The hill of Zion yields
A thousand sacred sweets
Before we reach the heavenly fields,
Or walk the golden streets.
Let’s torpedo the desperate attempts to achieve self-salvation from our insecurities, and taste those sacred heavenly sweets today.
Calvary Church of Valparaiso IN has asked me to lead their men’s ministry in a Hearing God Conference in their church building Friday and Saturday, November 12-13, 2021. The very reasonable price of $25 includes breakfast and lunch on Saturday and a copy of my book, Hearing God in Conversation.
For more information about the men’s retreat, Click Here or on the image Hearing God image.