Next to the main entrance of the church we attended few years ago, there was a table and a stack of fliers on it. It was a one page printout titled ‘ABC’s of salvation’, and below the title, the subsequent lines explained what it means.
A – Accept
B – Believe
C – Confess
A – Accept you are a sinner.
B – Believe in Jesus.
C – Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.
Do these three steps – You are saved!
There were references to bible verses with each step. When I first saw it, I was fascinated by the simplicity of the salvation formula derived from a big book like Bible. I took one copy for myself thinking that I might use this formula to get others saved. I had never seen it simplified like this before. The reason I was fascinated, that my finite brain is always inclined to the ideologies listed as bullet points. It’s easy to read, grasp, teach and share. Also I like the exact ‘science’ of anything.
Now, here is the question I want to pose:
What are the things you need to believe or do in order to fall in love with a girl?
Here is my answer,
1. Get to know her
Hmm… There is no exact science! I don’t know how to put it into bullet points! Love is not a set of statements defined on a piece of paper. There are things which cannot be explained, there are things which cannot be put into words. There are no step 1, 2, 3…There are no schools on the face of the earth who can teach me the science of falling in love.
Isn’t it amazing that we shortened the 66 books of the Bible into few bullet points hoping that we are summarizing it exactly? Has Jesus ever given us a formula? Has the Apostles?
Isn’t salvation nothing but falling in love with Jesus? And isn’t it true that the way I fall in love is NOT the way you fall in love?
How come we reduced this amazing love of God into a step by step process?
1. Listen to a sermon
2. Respond to the altar call
3. Repent of your sins
4. Invite Jesus into heart
5. Pray Sinner's prayer
6. Fill out the decision card
7. Join a church
8. Get baptized in their water by their pastor
9. Seek the gift of tongues (if you are a Charismatic)
10. Submit to the authority of your pastor and believe and do everything he says until your last breath.
What if the salvation is none of these? What if salvation is simply accepting a gift of love from the creator of the universe? What if Bible is not a book of ideologies, but a love letter?
Yes, I admit I am tempted to make everything into an exact science. But that's because I am dumb! Let ever my dumbness negate the essence and beauty of the love of Jesus!
When I itemize the steps for getting saved and staying saved, I am missing the whole point – the whole point of love. It might make my evangelism easier. It might help me to succeed in my Systematic Theology class. But what is the point if I am missing the love? What ideology can truly transform a heart other than genuine love?
I find it increasingly difficult to explain love, grace, faith, hope etc. People look for formulaic answers, but I just don't have it. I mean, I might just say - "I know Jesus loves you; and I hope you will come to know this truth." Is it over-simplified? I don't know!