“As we prepare to celebrate what we’re saved from, let’s not forget to champion what we’re saved for.”
It’s almost Holy Week. For congregational leaders this is a busy, busy time because we are making such important preparations. A lot is riding on these next ten (or so) days. This is the Super Bowl of the Church Year. Many more people than usual will gather ready to be led through the climactic events of our Lord’s redemptive work. There will be liturgy and word; experience and emotion; symbol and sound; table, garden, cross, and tomb.
And we need to prepare…
There are messages to write, music to rehearse, experiences to plan, decorations to arrange, bulletins to print… and to what end? We want the people of God to hear and experience the good news of God: Jesus died on the cross and rose again to save us from our sins!
But as we prepare to help the people of God celebrate what they are saved FROM, let’s not forget to champion what they are saved FOR. Easter is not a finish line; it is a launching pad! Let’s go ahead and tell them the REST of the story. Let’s go ahead and tell them what is now in play BECAUSE Jesus died and rose. Let’s go ahead and tell them what they are saved to DO. On Easter Sunday Jesus launched a redemptive ADVENTURE and many of our people don’t even know about it!
In our Lutheran teachings we are very clear and specific in confessing what we are saved FROM. We are saved FROM sin, death and the power of the devil. A stunning gift that is worthy of tremendous celebration! However, it also seems that we Lutherans are not always as specific about confessing and celebrating what we are saved FOR.
And what ARE we saved for? What is the rest of the story? Why exactly did Jesus die on the cross and rise again to save us from sin, death and the devil? Was it so we could simply run out the clock until we die and go to Heaven someday?
A favorite passage for us Lutherans is Ephesians 2:8-9. And for good reason, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” In these verses we are given the nuts and bolts of our salvation. But verses 8-9 are followed by verse 10. And verse 10 tells us WHY God did all that work of grace-ing us and faith-ing us. Was it just to get us into Heaven someday? Or was it because He also has something up His sleeve for our Monday?
Verse 10 clears it up, “For we are God’s workmanship [God did all that work of grace-ing us and faith-ing us for a reason], [we are] created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” There it is! That’s what we are saved FOR!
We are saved FROM sin, death and the devil SO THAT we can participate in the mission of God again. We are saved FOR getting up each morning and heading out with Jesus to participate in the good which the Father has prepared in advance for us to do.
That’s the rest of the story. That’s what the people of God get to DO!
Because we are baptized, every morning, Jesus in effect is kneeling near our bed waiting for our eyes to flutter open. When He sees we are returning to consciousness He smiles and says to us, “Good morning! I’m glad you’re finally awake! As soon as you’re ready, let’s go see what the Father has prepared in advance for us to do today. It’ll be fun! Come, follow me!”
Saved from sin, death and the devil. Saved for joining Jesus on His mission.
As we prepare to help our people celebrate what they are saved FROM, let’s not forget to champion what they are saved FOR.
In the Gospels, Easter wasn’t the finish line for Jesus; it was the launching pad for His all-out rescue mission. This Holy Week that rescue mission is still in full play and Jesus is still inviting us who are saved and free to join with Him. Go ahead and tell your people the good news! Go ahead and tell them that Jesus died and rose not just so we could go to Heaven someday (a stunning gift) but so that we could go with Him on Monday, too (a great adventure)! It’s what we were saved FOR.
“Good morning! Let’s go see what the Father’s prepared in advance for us to do!”