What every man looks for in life is his own salvation and the salvation of the [ones] he lives with. By salvation I mean first of all the full discovery of who he himself really is. Then I mean something of the fulfillment of his own God-given powers, in the love of others and of God. I mean also the discovery that he cannot find himself in himself alone, but that he must find himself in and through others.
— Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island
This is so different from what salvation meant in the Christian tradition I knew when I was young. The commonly heard phrase “are you saved?” comes to mind as a good example. That question could stand in for any of these, depending on the situation:
- Are you going to heaven, or to hell?
- Have you accepted Jesus as your personal savior?
- Are you one of us, or one of them?
- Are you safe for me to be around, or do you need to be saved first?
In this tradition, I was “saved” by age ten (if not before). I was one of them, safe.
But I wasn’t safe; I wasn’t one of them; I knew for sure that Jesus and heaven were primarily about doctrines I assented to and rules I lived by, but had little if anything to do with my heart. I had no clue what ‘joy’ was, the joy Jesus and Peter and John and Paul talked about. It was completely foreign to me.
Over time I had to admit to myself and others close to me that the Gospel seemed more like bad news to me than good. I didn’t want just fire insurance to save me at the very moment of my death; I wanted life, the life Jesus came to give us, and to live it every day and every moment of every day until my death and beyond. I didn’t know it then, but I wanted to “become all flame“.
- What is your notion of salvation?
- What is your experience with confronting the question “Are you saved?”
- What do you think of what Merton is saying?
Grace and peace…and salvation to you…
p.s. WordPress is telling me this post is “Saved” – glad to know it 🙂