Bigger than being saved – to the end


This word saved was a real biggie before I was.

You are saved. You have come to the Lord. You are saved. The Holy Spirit now indwells. You are saved.

And all I was doing was living before that. I was bobbing along with a job, a family, a life, hobbies, interests. Then I wasn’t so well. And then I was saved. And now I am bobbing along with a job, a family, a life, hobbies, interests.

What was I saved from?

I now picture someone in a lifebelt. In the sea. In a lifebelt. In the sea. Nothing has changed. No drowning happens. No walking on water happens. Not much changes except that someone is now is a lifebelt. In the sea. Still.

That is how I now see being saved – just another moment of kindness.

I can continue bobbing along. In my lifebelt. In the sea. The waves will continue to wash over me. The saltwater will still make me itch. Except now the lifebelt will also chafe. I will still be bobbing around. Except starting to wonder why I am tethered to this lifebelt that chafes. Except now realising with joy that I am tethered to others in their own lifebelts.  And now I cannot grumble. Someone might hear. Because now that I am tethered to others as well, I can’t even bob along as I used to.

Being saved, I now think, is a gateway. Nothing more.  This gateway – this “narrow gate” we aim to enter together at the Second Coming!  Except we don’t.

We pause.  A lot of us.  We hover.  A lot of us.  We are tethered to waiting.  This side of the narrow gate.

A lot of us.

Years ago I gave up sugar for Lent.

And patted myself on my back for doing it for “Him”. Because everyone else told me how good I was for giving up sugar for Him.  I still don’t have sugar.  We keep a bag for visitors.  And we have “given up” a lot of other stuff along the way. None of it for Lent.  None of it “for Him”.

We don’t have milk. We rarely have chocolate. We gave up sitting on the sofa so much.  We gave up not exercising so much.  We have given up some freedoms for other freedoms.  We have given up some “tethering” for other “tetherings”.  Like writing a blog.  Like going to the gym.  Like being grandparents.

Now we spend money having stuff done that we used to do ourselves. We have given up a lot.  None of it for Him.  All of it because life changes.  We change.  Staying the same is not an option.

Tongue in Cheek, TIC, warning …

Except that I am saved.  And tethered.  I just hope no one notices me praying with my eyes open (that’s regarded as snooping).  And there is a lot of stuff I have to do (or not do).  Because this being tethered comes with a lot of (tethering) conditions!  In fact the more I think about it, the more being tethered saved sucks!

TIC moment over …

(or was it?)

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. Matthew 10:21-23

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:9-13

I don’t think Jesus ever saw being saved as being tethered. I think He saw being saved as being free.

To the end.

And just like the “freedom” He handed to those three servants …

How am I getting on with my freedom today?

Am I burying it in the ground so it is safe – so that I can carry on being tethered today … Is it changing me – so that what I do today is different to what I did yesterday … And just what – exactly – is “freedom” changing in my life – right now today?

And to the end.

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28 thoughts on “Bigger than being saved – to the end

  1. Two things stand out …

    Then I wasn’t so well.

    Were you ill? What was the problem and why was it so bad you needed ”saving”?

    What was I saved from?

    You do not explain exactly what you were ”saved” from, although you do use a fair amount of rhetoric and analogy, but this simply confuses the issue ( or why you actually needed ”saving” or even what exactly this means) only what appears to be the feeling afterwards.

    • Hi Ark, the two which stand out for you are not the two which do for me. The journey is what stands out for me.

      Your first: a period in my life when I was not happy. I never needed saving. At that point in my life I was accepting of the “country of faith” into which I had been born and that of my parents belief. Being saved (or not) is what happens in that process of faith.

      Your second: I share your confusion (now). It is a rhetorical question I now think each who are “saved” should consider. As such I can only describe my own journey and share any journeys others wish to share with me. More and more I find my journey to be intensely personal. And “my God” (my belief) no less personal.

      Less religion and more relationship. And more and more moving from religion to kindness. And all still belief! Just like a disbelief.

      It’s all just belief.

      • Well, at least, this time I wasn’t condemned to Gehenna or threatened with GBH …
        Phew!

        Being saved (or not) is what happens in that process of faith.

        As there are several religions that would make a similar claim, how, therefore, do you know beyond any reasonable doubt that their path is not the correct one?

        More to the point, and with what is at stake, especially after where you wished I might end up,(which I took with a wry smile and a pinch of salt BTW, in case you were having bouts of guilt-ridden sleep ) how you can you be sure that the path you have taken is not going to lead you astray?

        • “Well, at least, this time I wasn’t … “ Another smile here, thank you.
          How do I know? I don’t. How can I be sure? I can’t. Did I lose sleep? A little.
          But your comments and reactive post changed something in me that has been changing for some time. The “White Feather conversation” shoved me past a point of personal dithering. Because we are talking about belief. Disbelief is just another’s belief. Whereas belief is just another’s disbelief. Much as spreadsheets don’t like a “circular reference” I am less and less a fan of “proving” belief and disbelief (no matter how dressed up as fact – or the absence of fact – it arrives).
          And how do I know I am not being led astray? I don’t. Because that is all just another belief as well.

          • Then in the absence of hard evidence for the supernatural, or until the god man leaps out of the shadows and declares in his best Terminator voice: ”I’m Back!”, should one not accept the only reality we have?

            The danger of not doing so breeds extremists …. ISIS, are a perfect (current ) example, and George W supposedly had ”god-guidance” re his little sorte into the desert, and Adolf thought he doing the right thing ,and so did the US, ”May God have Mercy On Our Souls (sic)” when Nagasaki and Hiroshima were reduced to little more than radio active wastelands.

            Furthermore, and correct me if I am wrong, acceptance of your particular ”Saviour”, the Lake Tiberius Pedestrian, requires some serious confessionals regarding you being a ”Sinner”, yes?

            • There are myriad beliefs relating to ”salvation”,(sic) even within your own religion.

              Atheism has only one ”belief”(which in truth, is non-belief) that there are no gods, and this is based solely on the unsubstantiated and unverified claims of those who say there are gods.
              And of course, even if your particular god turned out to be the Real Deal what is his/her /its motivation for demanding everyone genuflect to it?

              I am merely interested in why you adhere to one particular set of beliefs and not an other?
              Will you explain why?

            • Still talking about your beliefs – coloured with (my belief) your antipathy for your reasons for non-belief (which could be called “belief”).

              I dwell on this because unless we agree we are talking “belief”, you will move to telling me that your belief of my beliefs, which may not be the beliefs you believe are mine, are … whichever venting you choose today (based on previous experience).

            • Certainly. But as we are now sharing beliefs, and as I have already been subjected to the ferocity of your non-believing beliefs … I would love to hear why after being “drug up” on the standard UK version of church, you became a (passionate) non-believing believer.

            • Fair enough. Reciprocity. No problems with that at all.

              Just out of curiosity, where do you live, Paul if I might ask?
              Country’s okay if not the city.

              So…..
              As a child: I had no real interest in religion, was nothing but a cultural Christian, Sunday school here and there, the odd visit to church, Church Parade with the Boy Scouts and that was it.
              Never fell for the nonsense of the supernatural stuff but had no reason to doubt such things as The Exodus or that Jesus was a real bloke. Christianity just did not feature.

              As an adult:
              Same story, even got married in a Catholic Cathedral, seeing as my wife is a Catholic (lapsed she would now say). Kids (also now lapsed – very much!) baptized, went to Catholic school.
              When I began writing I was working on a satirical novel about an undertaker who had to travel to the an Egyptian- type country to relocate a recently discovered mummy, ostensibly the mummy of Mo ( a caricature of Moses)
              ( For what it’s worth, it may even get published within the next 18 months!…hurrah!)
              So I thought it best I do a bit of background research on the ”real” Moses just for content.Would not want to be dragged over the hot coals about historical accuracy and all that.
              And to my dismay I discovered that there was nothing – that the character turned out to be nothing but a work of fiction.
              I was blown away. Bear in mind I had been given no reason whatsoever to believe he was not a real historical figure.

              So I began to wonder about all the other stuff and characters in the bible.
              Not the miracles crap, that I dismissed out of hand, but the historical veracity of things like the OT characters and stories and the apostles,etc in the NT.
              So I read it all. Cover to cover. Then began to research.My KJY is covered in little red felt-tip pen marks!
              I also dabbled in reading the Qu’ran, ( I have a copy) but Islam is even more mental than Christianity
              Eventually, I realised it is all garbage. Nothing but Historical Fiction.
              Then I got the internet and discovered Christian Fundamentalism and Born Again Christianity, and Creationism,and the whole range of utter religious insanity. I was effectively blown away.
              And then I found out what some your some of these Christian cults were/are doing to kids and the adults they turned out.

              And this is why I agree with the late Chris Hitchins; religion poisons everything.

              And now you know ….

              Any questions?
              Fire away…

            • That is a very generous piece of yourself. Thank you. So before the questions, and there are a few – some of my background.

              UK born and raised (initially Newcastle, and currently Essex). Christian parents, church attendance, choir (and a half-crown for the wobbliest excruciating solo ever) and bell ringing. We moved a to so different churches and denominations. Mostly my “bit” was ordinary CoE. Confirmed and communion. And then told by my sister she would give my name to anyone as an example of a good Christian. Shocked to the core! It was all an act. Just doing what any good child does.

              So I cut all ties with church, the bible, God and the rest. Got married in a registry office as I believed (!) it not right to marry in church. And that was how the following decades continued. Never fought any faith battles either way. My parents carried on their church lives, and we never argued about church ever.

              And then we both wanted to renew our vows 25 years later – and in a church.

              I had changed and I cannot really explain when or how. Just that God was “meaningful” rather than “taught”. And that has been my journey ever since.
              Along the way I have found church to be less than wonderful – but have yet to meet the passionate fundamentalists you speak of. I keep meeting those in a comfortable coma. Most don’t like being woken up. And the journey continues.

            • Maybe you should examine ACE – Accelerated Christian Education.
              And on the Muslim side, the UK must be a lot more Islamified since when I leaved there, if chats with my folks and the odd You Tube video I catch.

              And you surely must have come in contact with this at one level or another?

              Remember, I have no truck with any religion, period, Christianity really is not that special, there are just more people ”in a comfortable coma” than say the Amish, for example, or Hindus.

            • ACE? Maybe. Maybe not. Being a qualified theologian holds no appeal. But along the way I have come across some interesting things. Enough for me to be convinced. A bit like falling in love. Is that a fact or is that belief? Is that static or does it change? Is it imaginary or real? And can love be unconditional or always conditional? And is love closer to what we like to define as “God” than anything else?

              And if that is not for anyone else, then that is okay by me. I have learned that those of entrenched beliefs (or non-beliefs) are very much the same – closed ears. My journey has been one of shedding ear wax more than anything else – maybe.

              What have I found? I find I have more in common with those of any (or no) faith who are “not qualified” or bound by any formal belief structure. But who see and sense and seek a love that is connecting – bigger than each of us – that happens to be called either this or that faith. I have always found that to be safe rather than damaging.

            • Questions:

              “religion poisons everything” Why?

              Because I would go further, I would say mankind has the ability to poison anything. But it is not the exclusive privilege of religion. We seem to have something that can switch on and off “evil” (in the cultural sense). I can be evil to you and you to me. Than all of a sudden we find something that allows us to connect – and the evil is switched off and we even forgive (cultural sense again) the earlier “misunderstandings”. I would say that religion has its fair share of that. But that is not the “all”.

              I have reason to know this bit of research: one bad memory will wipe out ten good memories. One really bad memory will blitz a bunch of (balancing) good things. I am learning that it is lazy thinking to allow (one) bad things to wipe out (ten) good things. Because most people are of the good. You are. I am (go with me on this one!). Yet labeling ALL religion bad is lazy thinking. And in the process makes the good vanish.

              And that is what I call “sleeping” – looking for the “wrong thing” simply because I was taught to do so as a child.

              Sin: I have no synergy with sin any longer. You look for sin you find sin. You look for sin because you are religious and can’t find any? You invent some.

              But now try that with love … I did. I do. Wow! Now that is liberating!

              It works in the same way. Just the side-effects are so very different. Is that “religion”?

            • I am not sure if you are actually asking me a question or asking and answering yourself?
              You tend to meander.
              If you wish me to answer why religions poisons everything I will do so, no problem and fully explain why.
              Meantime, let me get specific.

              Do you beleive in Jesus Christ, as a Messiah, and as the creator of the universe?

            • The question was around your sweeping statement that religion poisons everything. It is a choice to look for the good or the bad. Yet you always look for the bad in “religion” and see nothing else. You always find it without ever finding anyone good. But looking for the good is equally valid – and produces equally valid (and a tad more balanced) results.

              Why do you always choose to see the bad and ignore anything good? And a second question, why does that evidence itself in a desire to indoctrinate others with “that poison”?

            • The question was around your sweeping statement that religion poisons everything.

              It is a statement of fact and can be supported with evidence.
              All religion (as far as I am aware) is built upon an unsubstantiated presuppositional worldview that includes the supernatural.
              In the case of Christianity, your religion, this presupposition involves a make-beleive , (probably) Canaanite deity called Yahweh.
              This deity is nothing but a capricious monster as can be evidenced by the Old Testament. A deity that endorses slavery, misogyny, and genocide to name only three of his rather unsavoury traits.
              Out of Yahweism, we got fully-fledged Judaism, and later Christianity and Islam, and a myriad of other pseudo- Christian denominations, cults, and sects, most, if not all of which celebrate (a) human sacrifice, are basically death cults, and are based upon an erroneous text – the bible.

              There is absolutely nothing good present in religion that cannot be found in humanism, and religion requires suspension of critical thought and in the case of Christianity, the admission one is a sinner and subservience to a man- made deity; failure to do so will result – depending on the interpretation – (simple) separation from this god (sic) for ever, or banishment to Hell to be tortured for eternity.

              Religion divides nations, communities, and families.
              It is the breeding ground for some of the most heinous practices.

              In almost every case it is tacitly or overtly misogynistic ( and for this ALONE it should be resoundingly rejected) and all too often homophobic, where scripture is used to justify such practices.
              it was used to justify slavery and also, Apartheid in my country.
              It is considered by a great many people to be child abuse, not least where medical intervention is withheld on religious grounds and where children are overtly threatened with eternal damnation for everything from bad thoughts to masturbation, to swearing, to not wanting to go to church and pretty much anything you can think of that might be construed as a ”sin”.
              In the case of Creationism it is generally regarded as anti’ science.
              Many consider Catholicism and its stance regarding contraception responsible for the deaths of untold numbers because of HIV/AIDS,especially here in Africa.
              Okay, this is a good foundation and
              I think probably covers both questions?
              If not let me know.

              Although, all we have done is merely scratch the surface.
              If you want to consider history in the next thread let me know?
              We could look at something like the attempted extermination of the Cathars if you fancy?

              So, will you at least now answer my question from the previous post.
              Namely:
              Do you beleive in Jesus Christ, as a Messiah, and as the creator of the universe?

            • All I see is us now talking about your beliefs and whether I concur with your beliefs. Again. But I would like suggest something.

              That I use your last comment as a post here. That I invite others who have much greater “religious” qualification than I to respond. Not to go head-to-head, but to (hopefully) draw together thoughts from those who (as I do) have questions about religion – even doubts – but not (perhaps) the degree of animosity as you.

              Would you agree to me doing that – along with the understanding that your comments will still be moderated.

            • My blogs, but your words – so you do have a say. And as for moderation and only you – all I ask is kindness. You can – and have – been very unkind. Should others choose that style, then you will not be alone. Want to give this a go?

            • Sure … Let the chips fall where they will.
              We can possibly discus the merits of my apparent unkindness at another time, although I must be honest, Paul, I think you may be taking my comments regarding indoctrination as it related to child abuse a little too personally.
              Be that as it may … I think it will be a fine experiment, I am all for it.
              And I am, if you prefer, quite prepared to take an ”observer stance” on this one if you would find it more productive?

            • Thank you. And an “observer stance” is an interesting idea, thank you. But should there be anything you wish to respond to here, you have the right to respond – my blog, your words. All I ever ask is kindness 😊

            • ”Ladies and gentlemen ….in the blue corner, all the way from Johannesburg, , South Africa, weighing in at…”
              ”Oi!! … that’s personal.”

  2. Okay, Paul, I read your post a while ago… stewed on it a bit, and now I am back to react (much like you did with one of my recent posts).

    I must say this as a blanket statement under which everything else I say toils. Your posts have a poetic style to them that is beyond me. It is not a bash on your style, but an acknowledgement of my limitations. I took poetry in college and LOVEd it, but never came even close to mastering it. I loved it when I had help with it… a tour guide. But alone with it, I was a mess – usually. Keep that in mind as I comment, because if I am just WAAAAAAY off base, it will be my embarrassment, but a risk I am willing to take.

    Your post painted a picture of a life with job, hobbies, and interests that looked very much the same both before and after salvation. It seemed to beg the question: Shouldn’t some profound change have happened here?

    Then you recast the image as one bobbing on the waves needing to be saved, finally getting a life saving belt to make you float, but still just floating around in the same waves now like before pretty much.

    There is a very dark feel to all this. Something has been missed here, but not acknowledged. Am I on the right track? Really not sure. Anyway, that is the sense I got of it.

    Your poetic pictures remind me of church in my youth – teen years especially. I was a teenage cynic. (Still am, somewhat) I looked around at my church, the shrillness about the business it claimed to be in, but one Sunday morning at about 16 years old, I sat there buzzing from my Saturday night out still and noticed Tressa, a girl I had seen do a striptease for a group of boys the night before was nursing a hangover. I noticed to boys smacking each other under the table, and another couple passing notes to each other just like in Math class at secular school all while Brother Wyman labored at the chalk board to translate the value of a shekel of silver in modern American dollars so we could get some point he wanted us to get. But I was getting another point. I was getting how pointless this ritual really was. And when I left that Sunday, I did not return to church for many years.

    Over time I came to have a bigger appreciation for church culture. I don’t mean I wanted to thank it, I mean I was able to analyze much more critically – especially after attending Bible College. I saw that, at least in America, a lot of church culture treated church like a life-boat floating around hauling people inside so they could await THE END! A disaster was coming. Lots of people hadn’t headed Noah and his warning of a flood, but when it came they might have floated around a while, but eventually they found out what not being SAVED meant – the hard way. Church culture often looks at church as a repeat of that with a few nuance changes.

    And reading your post brings all this up for me. Salvation according to modern American church culture. But it seemed to ask a question – or at least it begged questions for me. And though the poetry and rhetoric of your post takes me to that modern church culture, the questions it raises don’t find answers there, I don’t think.

    If on the other hand, I considered SALVATION to be like living in an occupied nation ruled by an evil empire (or ISIS) and they are looking for a savior to save them.

    (Right now I have Megadeth’s song, In My Darkest Hour, worming in my brain… that lyric that says: Everlasting life for me… in a perfect world… But I gotta die first… Yes, so far this is slipping back into nothing more than church culture gave me and what Dave Mustane contemptuously criticized.)

    But what if this is Israel in specific, and they are told from long ago to expect a King, a Prophet, a Savior from God, to come and SAVE them from all the destruction Assyria, Babylon, Greece, or Rome ever conjured up. Only, what if when that Savior arrived he did a LOT more than counter all the destruction from all these evil empires… what if he counteracted the eating of the very fruit that launched CREATION itself on a path God never designed or desired for it – one that served sin and death? What if all that? And what if this SAVIOR saves us in his very dying? And what if he bids us to take up a cross and follow in his WAY (of salvation)? I mean, it might not have the same appeal as eating a nice steak back on land after bobbing on the ocean for a few days, but what if we still lived in the promise of a WHOLE LOT MORE than eating steak on land and calling that “Saved”?

    Would that change anything in any worthwhile way?

    Assuming, of course, I really caught the drift of your post…

    • WOW! Thank you!

      “Am I on the right track?” Someone accused me of “dancing” in my words recently. Not easy to pin down. Could they have a simple answer to a straightforward question please.

      I like “poetry” as well. And you comment has helped me understand why all our straightforward questions seem straightforward – and why some answers seem to be dancing and poetry that don’t.

      “Am I on the right track?” Is a very generous question – and thank you so much for your concern.. It really does mean a lot.

      I hope the same kindness is in these words.

      Does it matter? If these words prompt a conversation between you and our Father – between you and whatever belief structure you carry – is there ever a “right track”? And should there be one?

      My writing has changed me and my relationship with my God. The views and likes and comments go up and down. But at the end of the day will I be the me I could be or the me I think I should be? And will I allow those numbers to affect which it is? If I am on the right track will my numbers go up … ? If I am not … ?

      Those He brings me and those I am brought to – as here – I believe is for a reason. What that reason is I have no idea. My guess (over the past three years) is that I am changed by the meeting. My other belief is that if my intention is to change what is in you – then I step into a relationship that is not mine.

      “By Invitation Only” seems to me how He loves. And always leaves it to me to respond one way or the other.

      You asked a wonderful question: “What does church …” I think mine is in the same vein (and a vein probably changed by your question): “What does being saved … ”

      For me it is not the what. It is what comes after in this lifetime.

  3. Pingback: Bigger than not speaking – across the divide | Just me being curious

  4. Pingback: Religion poison everything. – A Tale Unfolds

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