Fascination with wickedness obscures what is good, and roving desire perverts the innocent mind.
Wisdom of Solomon 4:12

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Energetic Participation

In the contemporary western world, salvation is too often presented by Christians to the world as merely the transferring of man from death to life delivered to man by God free of works (ergon) accomplished by the one who is saved by God. Because of this view salvation, is often presented by way of a typical metaphor that speaks of man as a dead man floating on the water, and of Christ as the savior, a rescuer who comes to the floating man, brings him in to the boat, and then once the man is in the boat He resuscitates the him. So far so good, however, the mistake that follows is that they also insist that once the man in the boat and is resuscitated, the rescue is complete.

It is fine to say that the rescue of the man begins by resuscitation; however, it is equally necessary to insist that this rescue is by no means complete. Why? The reason is because there is obviously still a problem with this man that has not been dealt with. We have not dealt with the reason that the man was in the water to begin with, or why he couldn’t swim well enough to stay alive. The fact is that the man is for the moment alive, but those two problems that initially drove the man to death were not fixed by the rescuer merely hauling him into the life boat and resuscitating him.

What then is the root problem? The root problem here is twofold. One, it is a delusion on the part of the man who walked into a deadly situation, and two, it is a misuse of the man’s energies that lead to is death. As you can see, pulling the man into the boat does not heal that problem. The problem that remains is this: how do we keep the man from jumping back into the deadly waters? What kind of therapy does this man need in order to stop his delusion, and instead to turn his energies towards the life and towards loving himself and others. What must the man do in order not to end up dead in the water again?

If the rescuer really desires to save this man it is necessary that the rescue be complete, it is going to take much more work than just pulling him into the boat. This rescuer must continue to treat this man, moment by moment of his life. Additionally; the man must willingly participate in the remaining steps of the rescue because the rescue is not complete until he makes it to the end alive. This means that the work or energy that brings this about (the Greek word ergon), is an essential part of this rescue both by the rescuer and by the one being rescued. Obviously, since the man has a problem it cannot be the man’s ergon alone to finish the rescue, it must be primarily the ergon of the rescuer working together with the man, but the man must participate in that work. The rescuers role is by no means diminished, he is and continues to be the rescuer, however, the man must co-operate in this rescue.

How does the rescuer get the man to want to participate in this salvation? He does so by working with the man destroy his self-destructive tendencies, and by working with the man to build life and love producing tendencies. Thus, the man experiences this rescue by the savior working (ergon) in His life, and also by synergistically (sunergon) taking on the work of the rescuer all the way to the end of his life. Therefore, it may be said that the one saved truly knows the one saving him by the saving work itself, and becomes part of his savior by his in the participation in that savior’s work.

Salvation then is not simply what happens when the man is pulled into the lifeboat, rather it is what happens when the man is so intertwined with the savior’s energies that he is one with the life and love of the savior so that he makes it to the end in the work of the savior.

Consider the following scriptures with the above description in mind:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Pet 1: 3-5

How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? (Heb 2: 3) Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation- if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Pet 2: 2-3) Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Phi 2: 12b-13) For we are God's fellow workers (sunergos). You are God's field, God's building. According to the grace of God given to me… 1 Cor 3: 9-10

For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Rom 13: 11b-14

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