Salvation As An Art Form
Last night, Allison and I were presented with the opportunity that every customer at Family Christian Stores has when they purchase anything. You can predict it:
Cue the line, “Would you like to donate $5 to buy a Bible for a child in need?”
Perhaps it is because of my guilty conscience, or perhaps it is because I think that it is a good idea, I usually donate. Last night’s exchange was a bit different. They still offered the Bible for $5, but this time it was for a women’s center in our area sent to encourage women in the midst of a pregnancy to “choose life” in their own situation.
You can read more about the program here.
Not paying any attention to how the donation of a Bible would convince a pregnant mother not to proceed with an abortion in the first place, something still struck me as odd. And I didn’t know why.
I generally don’t oppose the giving of the book that tells the story of our Savior and Lord and often donate for the cause. But something about this marketing scheme seemed…off to me. How can a Christian oppose the giving of the Bible to one whom might benefit from the reading of it?
I realized that I didn’t oppose the idea as much as I let the marketing and phrasing around the promotion bother me. But I still didn’t know why.
At first, I thought, “There’s the typical Conservative side of things, maybe that’s just annoying.” That certainly played a role, but that didn’t seem deep enough. Surely that wouldn’t bother me that much. Then I thought, what is it about “choose life” that is so bothersome? And I realized, the typical Right Wing of America uses the phrase politically and in the midst of their own political ambitions judges those who are not members of their political party. Mostly this judgement manifests itself inside of the assumption that those who aren’t members of their party have different beliefs. As in, you aren’t a Republican, you aren’t pro life. And I don’t care what political party I align myself with, I’m not sure that my being pro-life can be decided by what party I decide to join. Aren’t all humans in some sense “pro life” when it comes to most things?
So perhaps my problem with the Bible donation was that the “choose life” phrase assumes that one might NOT choose life.
And then I thought, “Wait a second, how are we defining life?” Do we not have faith that the God who had the foresight to bring us into the world would not save us no matter what action our earthly potential parent might take? It seemed to me like maybe we weren’t putting enough emphasis on the life to come.
I’m not defending abortion, I think that dangers and problems in pregnancy ought to be taken into consideration because it is SUCH a case by case, situation by situation basis? I just think that when we implore others to “choose life” perhaps we are not taking into account much of the future: salvation.
I had to figure out how this type of logic would make sense. Because I can’t believe that these people who exercise these thoughts WOULDN’T think that salvation isn’t of utmost importance. Another realization: what does the salvation rely on? Oh yeah, their idea of salvation hangs on a conversion experience. A single point in time when Jesus was invited into their heart. From then on, they were “saved”.
While I whole heartedly believe that the Christian life requires a conversion experience of some sort and a conscious decision to follow Christ with an outward sign of that (baptism, confirmation, etc), I have always struggled with the salvation factor. I believe that God came to earth to save all. Not just Israel. Not just Calvinists. God came to save adults. God came to save those that will never hear the Gospel. God came to save those who will never be born.
And I had that sinking feeling that we all have every once in awhile when we are thinking about God and the work of God in our own lives and the world:
I. Don’t. Get. It.
I. Will. Never. Get. It.
I can’t understand. Because it isn’t up to me to understand.
Humans do this, don’t we? We have an issue, something that doesn’t make sense, and we try to rationalize it.
But we will never understand it. And it is still beautiful. Like art.
If we believe that God and God alone can and does provide salvation, and that nothing of our own merit earns us a way to living with God eternally, then we have to look at God’s way of providing salvation as art, something that is so beautiful that we can’t stop looking and will never be able to either explain it, fully comprehend it, or recreate it.
It is like when you read through one of Aaron Sorkin’s dialogues. Or when you watch Kobe Bryant shoot a three. Or when you hear Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau sing Lieder. Or when you look at anything Da Vinci. Or when you watch Barack Obama deliver a speech. Or when you read a Shakespearian plot line. Or when you watch Julia Roberts act. Or look at the design of an Apple product. Or watch Nolan Ryan throw a fastball. Or watch Jim Parsons deliver a Sheldon line. Or listen to Steve Wozniak describe building the first personal computer.
It is brilliance. And all are art forms that we can’t understand. Can’t figure out, and can’t help but see the beauty in.
I can’t help but think that God’s saving grace works in the same way.
Perhaps, rather than trying to decide what God is doing in the world and force it on others, we would do well to take a step back every once in awhile, take in the beauty of what it means to be a child that God has saved from sin, and let that inspiration that is bound to appear speak for itself.