“Saved” Romans 10:8-17

“Saved” Romans 10:8-17

Sermon Audio    Romans 10:8-17

Have you ever been sitting at home on a Saturday,
minding your own business,
and out of nowhere there is a knock on your door?

You get up to go and answer it
and its a couple of people dressed nicely with, a few pamphlets in their hands
or perhaps even a bible.
And they want to tell you how you can be saved.

Usually, we are polite. We listen.
We take the pamphlet.
And we hope the next time they stop by
we aren’t home.

Or perhaps you have seen at some point
a couple of young men either walking
or riding their bikes in nice dark slacks
and crisp white button-down shirts and ties,
with little name tags that say “Elder so-and-so”.

They have either come to your door
or seen you out working in the garden
or walking down the street
and stopped to talk to you.
They too want to tell you how you can be saved.

I can honestly say,
I have never had a Methodist
come knocking on my door
wanting to tell me how I can be saved.

And sometimes, sometimes that gives me pause
and makes me wonder why it is that we don’t. Don’t the Methodists care about people too?
We know, of course, that we do –
so why don’t we go door to door with our faith?

Before we can even get close
to answering that question, though,
we have to ask another question:
“saved from what?”

A month or so ago I was in the U.P.
having breakfast with a friend
and showing them around my hometown
when I got the call from my dad
that he was circling the drain, as it were,
and I’d better get there soon.

When I got there
he seemed much the way he’d been
the night before
but with a whole lot more fear in his eyes.

His nurse, Sara, explained to me
that his vital signs were not improving,
in fact they were getting worse,
and that the “wait and see on Monday” plan
the doctors had for dealing with the issue
would be too little too late.

And so this nurse, Sara,
woke up and called in all three
of my dad’s cardiologists
and the attending ER doctor,
and told them they needed to do
the more aggressive procedure now
or they could forget about Monday
because my Dad wouldn’t make it that long.

The doctors listened.
They came in on a Saturday.
I am sure missing tee times and family times
and did the procedure my dad needed.

In an instant,
as soon as that procedure was done,
my dad was a different man.
Back to himself.
Strength in his voice and light and life in his eyes. His mind was sharp again.

Friends, I am convinced beyond a doubt that Sara,
Sara SAVED my Dad.
I will never forget Sara.
I will forever be grateful to her
for making that call and keeping my dad here
even for just a little while longer.

So my dad was SAVED, in that case,
in a very physical sense.
His body was pulled back from the brink of death
and now he has life,
and I have the hope
that it will be a new one for him
where his health and fitness are a priority.

For some the idea of salvation within the church
is like that.
It is a physical salvation
from the punishment of an eternity in hell,
separated from God and from every good thing.

Salvation means knowing
that you won’t suffer physical torment
for all eternity.
But there has to be more too it right?
It can’t just be a physical thing can it?

After Bri and the girls made it up north
we spent some time showing them around
our hometown.

One evening I took them all
to the very spot where I met Jesus.

Of course Braeleigh was disappointed.
She thought, when I told her
we were going to see the place
where Daddy met Jesus
that Jesus was going to physically be there.
There was great weeping
when all she got to see
was a bit of gravel
on the shoulder of a back country road.

In that sense though,
where I met Jesus or where I was saved,
lends itself more towards
the idea of the salvation of the soul,
a more spiritual kind of thing.
Sure we still tend to speak of it in terms
of salvation from hell,
but in this case it is spiritual torment
that we are concerned with.

Most of the time,
when we talk about salvation,
it is about being saved FROM something.
Saved from hell.
Saved from death.
Saved from making a big mistake.
But perhaps there’s something more.

As we seek to understand
just what it means to be saved
I think we do well to listen to Jesus on the matter.

In Luke’s gospel chapter 4
we get to read Jesus’ first sermon.

He has been baptized by John,
and been tempted in the wilderness for 40 days
and then he returns to Galilee,
to the town of Nazareth where he was raised.
He walks into the synagogue
and is handed a scroll from the prophet Isaiah. And he read:

“The spirit of the Lord has anointed me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And you’ve got to give it to Jesus,
he could be succinct when he wanted to be.
He doesn’t launch
into a lengthy piece like the sermon on the mount. No. He rolls the scroll up.
Looks out at the crowd and says
“Today this scripture has been fulfilled
in your hearing.”

Pretty sure this was the first “mic drop”.

Jesus was sent
to bring good news to the poor.
Release to the captive.
Recovery of sight for the blind.
Freedom for the oppressed.

I think it is important to note,
that nowhere in Jesus’ first sermon,
or in the scripture he read,
was there talk of heaven or hell.

But as you continue to read the gospels,
as you track the life of Jesus.
You see those mission objectives,
those acts of salvation, carried out again,
and again, and again.

Good news and healing and release and freedom.
Time and again.
And some of the time it was physical and literal.
The blind regained their sight. The lame walked.

And other times it was less literal.
Like Zacchaeus,
the wee little man up in that sycamore tree.

His physical sight was fine,
other than being short,
he could walk and talk and work.

But he was blinded by greed
and crippled with his own desires for power
and stature
and with a couple of words from Jesus
his spiritual blindness was healed
and his paralyzed spirit was given strength.

While Jesus does speak
of punishment and judgment
we find very little in the way
of specifics about heaven and hell.

Now that’s not to say they aren’t a factor
but rather to say that when Jesus was here
he dealt primarily with the here and now and so,
perhaps, should we.

When we think about these things
for a minute or two it can become clear
that while Jesus was sent to bring
good news and healing and freedom,
there were still people, in his time and now,
that were poor, and in need of healing,
and in need of freedom.

Just because Jesus was on the scene,
on mission, doing what he was sent here to do,
doesn’t mean that everyone received it
or that the solution to the situation was a miracle.

The good news to the poor,
especially in that day,
may simply have been the reality
that they have not been forgotten by God,
that their poverty was not the result
of not having God’s favor or love,
but rather a result of the world in which we live
being the fallen place that it is.

So the kind of salvation
Jesus talked about and practiced
was physical and spiritual.

Good news and healing and freedom
for our body, mind, and spirit.
But it was dependent, to an extent,
on the human response to what was offered.

In our scripture for this morning
Paul spells out just how it is
that we access that salvation.

“Because if you confess with your lips
that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart
that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved.”

You will experience
the healing and freedom you need.

And this being “saved”
is not simply being saved FROM
our ailment or oppression,
but rather being saved TO something.

This salvation has a purpose,
not just to free us for the sake of freedom,
but to free us to BECOME.
To become who we were intended to be
as children of God, as image bearers of God
from the very beginning of creation.

We are saved not to maintain the status quo
or to get us into heaven someday,
we are saved,
we are set free from oppression and captivity
and anguish –
all of those things that came
with our original and perpetual sin of idolatry –
so that we can begin to live into the image
in which we were created.

Now I understand
that it seems much more dramatic and flashy
to boil it all down to a question
of eternal life or eternal death.
To make it into a choice between heaven and hell.

It’s easier to tell people
“just believe in Jesus
and you go to heaven when you die”.
Sweet and easy. No muss. No fuss.
Pray this little prayer, call Jesus “Lord”.
And your seats are reserved
in the non-smoking section of eternity.

That is a MUCH easier message
to get across than one that says
we have all been saved from the idolatry
that corrupts our lives – body and soul –
so that we can begin a process of discipleship,
of becoming,
of transforming into who we were created to be.

The easier message is transactional.
One easy payment of $29.95 and heaven is yours.

The other way, the way Jesus talks about,
is relational, it takes work,
it takes time, it takes struggle.
We can fail 100 times before we see a success,
but we press on because we hope,
because we have faith,
that this process will bring us ever closer
to our fulfillment of the children of God.

A few years back Michaela asked
if she could have a guitar and if I could teach her. Having been denied that request
when I was younger I was quick to fulfill it
for Michaela.
We bought her a cute, little, purple guitar.

When we got home I restrung it.
I tuned it up.
I played it a bit myself
to make sure it was all in working order.
And then I grabbed my guitar
and sat Michaela down with hers
for her first lesson.

Much to her dismay,
as she took the guitar in her hands
and placed her fingers on the string,
and started strumming,
it didn’t sound anything like
what I had just been playing on it.
In fact it didn’t sound like anything but noise.

She thought because the transaction
had been done,
the guitar purchased and in her hands,
that she would immediately
be able to play like I do.
Apparently I make it look easy.

But the reality is,
I have struggled and practiced,
and cut deep callouses into my fingers,
and practiced some more,
and sought out other players better than me
to teach me things,
and practiced still more
in order to be able to play and make it look easy.

She didn’t know, nor did she believe,
that there was a time
when I picked up a guitar for the first time
and couldn’t play a thing.

But all of the effort and practice
and seeking out teachers was worth it
because now I can grab my guitar
and play and sing anytime I desire.

It is the same with being saved.
The saving act was accomplished by Jesus.
It is not something we purchase but a gift given,
a gift though, that we have to choose to live into. We have to choose to put in the work
to allow the gift of God in Jesus Christ
to reach its fullest potential.

You cannot play the guitar well
without patience and practice and discipline.
Or to put it another way,
the really cool set of lego blocks
isn’t going to put itself together;
you have to open up the box,
and read the instructions
and start connecting the bricks.

Too long a time with transactional salvation
as the primary message of the church is, I think,
part of the problem we find ourselves in.
We get the idea of faith
as something we consume
instead of something we live.

I saw a meme this week
that claimed to be a quote
from a random church person.
And I am sure you have heard
someone say something like this
after worship before.

It said: “Worship really didn’t do it for me today.”
To which the preacher replied.
“That’s probably because
we weren’t worshiping you”.

And I think that is why, as Methodists,
we don’t leave our worship and fellowship time
on Sunday morning
and go knock on doors in the community.

Because we know
that there is a whole lot more to begin saved
than a simple transaction.
We know that a ten minute conversation
on someones porch isn’t going to cut it.

But we do need to leave
our worship service on Sunday
and be intentional about developing friendships,
relationships with other people,
and bringing them into our lives
and allowing them to see, in our lives,
the fruit of our relationship with Jesus.
We don’t need to go door to door,
but we certainly need to go next door.

And let them see the peace we gain.
The love we share.
The grace we experience.

And as they know us,
as they see our lives,
we continue to invite them along on the journey.
To see and experience more
of what it means to be a child of God,
an image bearer of the most high.

But none of that happens,
as Paul tells us in Romans ten,
none of that happens
if we do not open our mouths in the first place.

If we do not let people know
that Jesus has saved us
to something more than we currently are.

And we may be pretty great people right now.
I know some atheists
who are pretty good Christians.
But the reality is
we have been created to be something.
And the way to find peace
and contentment and joy in this life
is to become who you were created to be.

A guitar hanging on a wall,
a guitar that is never strummed,
is not being what it was created to be,
not making the music for which it was created,
and therefore, if it had emotions,
would be rather depressed.

But guitars in the hands of a skilled player
sing beautiful songs that bring joy to their creator.

It is our job, our commission, our mission,
as children of God, as image bearers,
to tell people about Jesus,
about how Jesus frees us from ourselves
to become who we were created to be
and show them that freedom at work in our lives so that they can follow our example
and walk the path of disciples,
the path of salvation,
the path of becoming who God created us to be.
Amen? Amen.

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