Eugene Cho

thoughts on salvation

Well, I’m hacking another stimulating post for you to read, enjoy, parse, critique, and engage.  This is written by Randall A.  He and some of his friends trekked out from Hawaii to Seattle a year ago or so – partly to enter the foray of the Seattle music scene.  Randall and another band member, Miles, attend Quest.  They belong to a indie/pop/rock group called Harrison Band and got an upcoming show at the El Corazon on Sunday, October 21.  You can also see one of their videos on YouTube.  But, enough of me plugging their band. 

Randall wrote an incredibly though provoking post on the subject of Salvation.  We can easily or too simplisticly deduce salvation as one dimensional – “Do you accept Jesus or not?”  If we see the totality of Jesus’ life, salvation includes that but so much more.   Make sure you read the entire post [it’s worth the time] and share your thoughts – here or there on his blog entitled, LONE TOMATO.  It’s a beautiful thing to engage and seek to Love God with your heart, soul, body, and MIND.

This question has to do with the first century church – a church that had to endure lethal amounts of persecution. As a christian, depending on where you lived, you could be subject to assault from the Romans who saw this new cult as a threat to the Pax Romana or from Jews who considered the teachings of Jesus to be blasphemy. Despite the fact that declaring one’s self to be a christian could get you killed, christianity exploded across the continent such that a mere three hundred years after the death and resurrection of Christ, the emperor of Rome, Constatine I, legalized the worship of Christ with the Edict of Milan.

So my question is, what was it that those first christians found so compelling about the Gospel that they were willing to die for it? Because to be honest with you, if I had been living in an area where christians are persecuted today (places in the Middle East or South Asia, for example), I don’t think I would have accepted Christ with the messages I heard here in America – that Jesus died so that I could have a “personal relationship” (a metaphor that I’m not entirely comfortable with – see post 270) with God. I mean, that would have been cool but I don’t know if that would have been enough for me to adopt a life where I would likely be disowned by my family and ran the risk of being tortured and/or killed if my conversion was reported…

And later in his post:

I think the best way to understand salvation is to think of it as signing on to be a part of a revolution – a movement to upend a world that has lost its way and to set things right again. That is the good news of the Gospel.

In the first two chapters of Genesis, God creates the cosmos and it is good, perfect, flawless. And then in chapter three, Adam and Eve, duped by the serpent, eat fruit off the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

And then the shit hit the fan.

Every instance of injustice, of betrayal, of meaningless suffering, rancor, and defeat can be traced back to that little taste. Pride, lust, envy, and every other dark need that drives us entered the scene, poisoning even our best intentions. Large to small, top to bottom, everything in the world that’s not as it should be is torqued because of the fall. Everything from national stories like the racism that seeks to unequally punish the Jena Six or the incomprehensible fact that in the richest nation in the world, two years after the fact, New Orleans is still a tragedy; to national issues like the genocide in Darfur, the never-ending dispute in Israel, or the megalomaniacal government of Burma; down to the little nuisances of everyday life – drivers who don’t know how to merge, people with fifteen items in the twelve item grocery line, stupid workplace situations. All of these things because of the fall in Genesis three. As a result, everything else in the Bible from Genesis four through Revelation twenty two has to do with God helping us to get back what was lost. And this powerful play goes on and God commands us to contribute a verse! Yes, Christ died so we could be freed from slavery to sin and be reconciled to God but that is ONLY THE BEGINNING. As precious as this freedom is, it’s kind of like a fringe benefit or a signing bonus. It’s not the point of accepting or following Christ. To me, the part of the Gospel that is worth more than life itself is the idea that through the work of Christ on the cross, we become a part of God’s plan of redemption and reconciliation. It’s like we’re given a transfer from the wrecking crew to the repair crew. All the things that are wrong with the world – we become partners in God’s plan to set all things right. [READ FULL POST]

Filed under: emerging church, quest church, religion

12 Responses

  1. Jenny says:

    You certainly have some talented folks at your church who aren’t afraid to think critically about their faith.

  2. Rex Hamilton says:

    I couldn’t agree more! I heard Brian McLaren say once that we believe one of two gospels…the gospel of evacuation (leaving behind this world and it’s dysfunction), or the gospel of transformation (joining God in the trasformation of this world). Ever since my eyes were opened to being on a mission with Jesus I’ve never felt more alive in my salvation. I like his thoughts on being “transfered” from the wrecking crew to the repair crew. Overall, I think the church in America has a long journey to understanding salvation as an invitation to mission and not a free pass to live and leave our world. But I do believe in the church very much and have great hope in it’s future! On another note, I met Martin who is the lead singer of Harrison at a bar almost a year ago and have had the chance to see their set a couple times…great sound, great lyrics, great band! God bless you Eugene in your work today.

  3. Right on… Rob Bell also was saying someting similar, how there are both personal and societal implications from the Gospel, how giving a poor man some food and telling him he needs to repent are both the Gospel… about how God rescues us, reconciles us to Himself, but also transforms us and sends us back out to be a blessing to the nations!

  4. chad says:

    excellent post…really glad you pointed this out…it reminds me of some things Shane Claiborne says in Irresistible Revolution…

  5. RK says:

    Thanks for the post. Grew up in church; father’s a missionary and professor of theology and was a pastor. Trying still to figure out how theology and faith translates into an authentic and meaningful life in a church setting. Is it really possible in most churches today?

    When I read the Gospels, truth of God’s love resonates deep within me. I think it is this clear, unconditional love and ultimate freedom from guilt and sin and the determination to never lose the greatest gift to human life, that causes one to believe one can die for this.

    However, in many churches I have experienced the opposite of the freedom I mention above. People seem less honest, like they have more to hide. I do this myself because I feel judged when I walk into a church. From how you dress, to what car you drive, to what kind of house you live in, what you do for a living, and so on. Not everyone is that way, but enough of them to turn me off. Often church culture breeds a lot of “shoulds” and “should-nots”.

    I like what Randall said about doing his part in a way by filing and organizing. It’s really between him and God, who knows his heart. Whether or not we’ve read through the entire Bible, go to church every Sunday, I think it really comes down to one’s personal conviction of God’s love and truth and how one applies it in daily life…or is it? Can we form a faith community outside of traditional church?

  6. Nick H says:

    I feel that I live in a world, specifically a culture that has boxed me in and trapped me. We talk about freedom and braking the bondage of sin but I don’t feel free at all. I like the idea that salvation lies within participating in the revolution but I feel that this culture has created a world so deceiving, that we don’t even know we are in a war.

  7. e cho says:

    Nick,

    So, what does “participating in the revolution” mean for you?

  8. […] Comment on thoughts on salvation by chadexcellent post…really glad you pointed this out…it reminds me of some things Shane Claiborne says in Irresistible Revolution… […]

  9. an_atheist says:

    There are two questions that I have: first, if the heart of Christianity – the thing which Christians like Randall are wiling to die for – is participating with God in “fixing” this world – then why is Christiantiy exclusive? Shouldn’t all religions and philosophies that have the goal of making the world a better place be embraced by Christians as fellow revolutionaries? Afterall, Christians aren’t the only one expressing concern and trying to bring relief to the issues listed by Randall.

    Second, if being reconciled to God (whatever that may mean) is only a fringe benefit (that is peripheral to the main benefit), then why are so many Christians I know always trying to “convert” me? Why can’t I just be who I am and help fight against the genocide in Darfur or help people merge in traffic better? Why the insistence on the label Christian when it seems like we’re fighting for the same thing.

    Sorry if I sound a bit pushy; I just can’t get my head around these questions?

  10. Nick says:

    Eugene,
    Great question……………I’ve been thinking that it might mean giving up this comfortale world my wife and I have created for ourselves. I’m not sure how that will be played out but I feel it’s something I need to do. Kind of vague huh?

    an_ atheist:

    Thanks for asking tough questions.

  11. e cho says:

    Nick: So, I guess the next logical question would be:

    “Does it have to be ALL or NOTHING?”

    You and your wife have made choices of that reflect sacrifice, generosity, and care. You’re taking steps… I guess it’s possible that your calling may be to GIVE UP EVERYTHING but if that’s not your calling or you can’t, it’s ok.

    You care and you’re trying…

  12. Randall says:

    an_atheist…

    those are great questions and honestly, right now I don’t have a compelling answer. I’m ashamed to admit that but there it is. I can say that I’m not smart enough to know how to go about fixing the world and so I rely on the guidance I find in the Bible to help me. And because I believe God created the cosmos, I believe he has the best plan to set it right again.

    And no, that doesn’t answer your questions and I apologize. I do have some ideas that might get at some of what you’re asking but I’m still working through them – they’re not quite ready to see the light of day yet. Give me a couple weeks (or months, I’m not the fastest writer/thinker) and I’ll see if I can come up with a better response.

    Thanks again for reading and asking,
    randall

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One Day’s Wages

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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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