“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you.” (Ephesians 1:18, NIV)
In our Bible study group the other evening we were talking about how we understand the concept that God accepts everyone just the way they are. It seems that our post-modern world would have us understand that this idea means that we should be tolerant of everyone. This concept was the subject of much debate in the First Century church as the Jewish followers of Christ and the Gentile followers tried to find ways to become a community of faith. Many in our culture today would say that the stories we read in the Book of Acts are a sign that all religions lead to the same God or that all faiths are basically the same. We hear about “universal salvation;” the idea that all people, no matter what they’ve done or what they’ve believed, will be saved. This “doctrine” even goes so far as to proclaim that Satan and his demons will one day be in heaven with God for all eternity. In other words, God places no requirements on his children; we can simply live in sin with no repentance and no remorse because God loves us and will welcome us into heaven no matter what. As easy as this may sound, it is absolute hogwash! God does not require us to “earn” our salvation; he does require us to be transformed by it.
Bishop N.T. Wright says: “It is not the case, then, that God simply ‘accepts us as we are’. He invites us as we are; but responding to that invitation always involves the complete transformation which is acted out in repentance, forgiveness, baptism, and receiving the spirit.” It is true that God’s will is for all people to be saved; yet, it is humanity’s reality that not everyone follows God’s will. We have a choice to accept or reject God’s call upon our lives and the choice we make determines the path we follow and the destination we reach.
Oswald Chambers writes: “Remember what you are saved for – that the Son of God might be manifested in your mortal flesh. Bend the whole energy of your power to realize your election as a child of God; rise to the occasion every time.” We cannot do anything to earn or deserve our salvation; but, we must do something to show evidence of it. We need to seriously examine our individual lives and the life of our church to be sure that we are living out the hope that we are called to. If we are simply looking and living inwardly, then it is a lie to say that we are truly saved and sanctified by God. Without transformation, our claim to be followers of Christ is hollow and false.
Chambers goes on to say: “May God not find the whine in us anymore, but may He find us full of spiritual pluck and athleticism, ready to face anything He brings.” You see, the only purpose our life should have is to reflect the Son of God for all to see. When we do this, everything we need is taken care of and we stop trying to tell God what to do or how we want things to work out. We are not here to tell God what to do; we are here to submit ourselves to God’s will so that the Spirit may work through us to bring the Light of hope to nourish others. My eldest son reflected the other day that God promised us our daily bread, not our daily filet mignon. It is important that we know the difference between our needs and our wants; this will allow us to recognize and accept Gods true will for our lives. It is this discernment that will enlighten the eyes of our hearts to know the hope that God has called us to.
Let us all promise to stop whining and rise to every opportunity that God presents to us. Salvation is for everyone, but only those willing to change will receive it.