What matters to me anymore is living the best life possible with the days I am given. At the age of 53, I don’t yet have one foot in the grave but I know it is likely that I have more days behind me than I have ahead of me. That actually doesn’t frighten me in any way at all. What it does is motivate me to live each day to its fullest. I want to be the best parent I can be to my adult children. I want to be the best friend possible to those with whom I have such a relationship. I want to be the best pastor and preacher I can be to the congregation I serve. I want to laugh hard. I want to serve faithfully. I want to listen intently to those who need an ear. I want to speak passionately for those who have no voice. I want to use wisely the gifts, talents and resources that I have been entrusted with to help make this world a better place. A place where the way of God, the way of peace and justice, are made known. I want to live my life the best that I possibly can.
It is easy in the Christian faith for us to become lazy with the theology of sin and redemption and beat people up with that way of thinking. It is to think that the only goal of our faith is to get to heaven and we can only do that by admitting what terrible sinners we are and accepting Jesus’ cross as the price paid for our sins and the only path of reconciliation to God. Though sin and redemption play an indispensable role in Christianity, they are not the only lens through which we should look upon Jesus. It is not only Jesus’ sacrificial death that should be the focus of Christian thought and understanding. It should also be the life that he lived and which he calls us to. A life which we live to our best ability by working toward a world where loving concern for others reigns supreme.
In the gospels, salvation is not primarily about a heaven beyond this world, it is about life being more complete and whole in the here and now – the blind receiving sight, the lame walking, the deaf hearing, the prisoner set free, about lives changing for the better in the present moment. I believe the work of the church is to be found in working for the salvation of the world that is to be known in making broken and battered lives better in the here and now. We move toward creating such a world when all of us work on being the best people we can be in Christ. Allowing his teachings to define what we consider good and just and his example of care for others being the one that we follow with our lives. In other words, allowing the humanity of Christ to be the humanity toward which we strive to live.
For some, believing that “Jesus died for your sins” practically sums up the entire Christian faith. I have come to believe the life that Jesus lived needs to be rediscovered. It is that life, lived in faithful beauty, which shows us how to live as his followers.