While pondering the concept of spiritual poverty earlier this year, something struck me that I hadn’t considered previously quite in that way. I have believed the central principle for some time, but considering how salvation (being saved from something) applies to this life is something I have not put into words previously. Here is what struck me:
Those who crucified Jesus did so because they could not accept Him as the one who had paid (Jehovah) and would pay (the Christ, their Messiah) for their sins. In Matthew 3:9, they said, in essence, “We don’t need you. We are children of Abraham. We are fine. We’ll do it on our own.”
We decry deathbed repentance, particularly for those who consciously choose to procrastinate repentance until the end – to do what they want to do until they are facing death and the possibility of judgment. At the same time, too many members view grace, faith and works as follows:
“I must do everything I possibly can do; I must give my all; I must wear out myself trying to do what He has asked me to do – THEN He will accept my effort and help me do more.”
That might not be the exact same mentality as “deathbed” repentance, but it is at least “hospital bed” repentance. In very real terms, it is saying, “I will let you know when I need you,” which really is the same mentality as the one who procrastinates the request for help until his deathbed. It also means that I will not receive the help He can give AS I struggle – which means I will not experience His freedom and joy until my frustration nearly (or completely) breaks me. Yes, I will then be blessed, but I will have missed SO much in the meantime.
Hillary Weeks has a song entitled “Unwritten”. The central message is, in my own words:
“As I review the pages of the book of my life, I am grateful for what I read (what I have experienced), but I am most grateful for what has remained unwritten – those things from which the grace of God has shielded me – those things I have not had to experience – those things from which I have been saved – in this life.” (Yeah, I know it’s Mormon religious pop, but it’s a great message.)
Jesus, as the Christ, offers salvation for us from the effects of our actions in the next life, but Jesus, as the exemplary man, showed us a way to be saved from much of the effect of our fallen existence in this life. In a very real way, not accepting what He paid so dearly to provide until we have exhausted ourselves is no different than not accepting that His offer was ever made in the first place, since they both tell Him to get lost until we get a handle on it on our own or when we finally need Him – implying we don’t need Him now.
His plea, however, is different:
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
That is worth pondering, since there is no indication in the record itself that this promise is intended to be fulfilled solely in the hereafter.
Truly, I am grateful for both the pages in the Book of (My) Life that I read and the pages left unwritten – for the things from which He has saved me in this life.