Friday, December 17, 2010
“Unto what?” is a question that is changing my current outlook on God and others. I was recently asked the “unto what” question by a friend who was seeking to deepen my understanding of what Jesus has saved us TO instead of primarily focusing on what Jesus has saved us FROM.
As a good evangelical Christian, I am very aware of the FROM side: we are deeply flawed people who fail to live righteously and are therefore in need of a Savior to save us from our sin and its punishment. I’ve got that part of the story nailed down pretty well. What I am coming realize is that I get so focused on the sin that Jesus saves us from and the means by which Jesus saves us, that I rarely get to the end for which He saved us. The result of living focused on the FROM side of the Gospel is chronic frustration and disappointment with myself and others. I’m always on the lookout for what we need to be saved from. This makes it really difficult to love well (God, others and myself). In truth, despite believing the Gospel, I can live more like a Pharisee than Jesus, when I only focus on the FROM side of the Gospel.
Hence the question – “unto what?” Unto what has Jesus saved us? The answer to this question is rending and mending my heart at the same time. We are saved unto a life of love and blessing in God’s family. “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do and it gave him great pleasure.” Ephesians 1:5
You may know that Jesus saved you unto a life of love and blessing in God’s family, but let that fact descend to your hearts through the story of the Prodigal Father in Luke 15.
God is the prodigal (lavish) father who doesn’t just save his son FROM his wickedness, but UNTO a life of love and blessedness in his home. After the son realized the error of his ways and returned home, the Father wouldn’t even hear the son’s groveling but identified him as his son by placing His ring on his finger, blessed him richly by clothing Him with His robe, and threw a huge party to let His son know how happy He was to have him home. This is the heart of God toward us! Because of Jesus, God no longer looks on our sin and brings condemnation. He now identifies us as His sons and daughters. He clothes us in Jesus’ righteousness. He invites us into His banquet hall where we feast with His community of love. Wow! The heart of God is wonderfully good.
As my hearts swells with the love that the Father has saved me unto, I find my heart also enlarging toward others. It’s hard to love on and delight in others when I am only focused on what Jesus has saved us from - my sin, their sin. But when I realize the love and blessing that I am saved unto, I find that I delight in people despite their shortcomings. The love that God saves us unto is also the power that changes our hearts.