What is Salvation to Creation?
My creed du jour as I see it in the stars, the Bible and in my life:
I was taught a doctrinally correct and semantically secure version of how salvation comes to us, and was encouraged to use this terminology with others, that they might receive salvation as well. Some people call it a statement of faith, or a testimony, or the “Cross Talk”.
Salvation blows in on winds from all directions; and for me (an able, young, “middle” class, private school student), salvation was introduced via my parents, and an institution of Christian tradition—which is to say, it was taught to me before it was cognizantly experienced by me. I cut my teeth on salvation by recanting the words put in my mouth.
Does it sound like I’m about to knock tradition and teaching? Nope. No way. Though for a brief moment, I saw my early training as limits and chains and binds, I now know it as a tremendous privilege and an essential strengthening agent for my foundation, that Christ-in-me might grow high and wide upon it.
Anyway, armed with airtight apologetics (at least as much as a juvenile mind could know), I brought my artillery to places like Mexico and Cambodia to bless the people with the same education that had saved me. It’s not like there is a better or more complete script out there.
“…by the blood of Christ I am saved from my sins…”
May I make a confession? I still don’t get it. Oh, the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, that anyone should hear that and be drawn in to want more! Wonder of wonders, the Breath of Heaven is surely alive and working that I believed without proof, as a result of ingesting knowledge that is so high, I cannot attain it.
I am not suggesting that the texts like the Nicene Creed are passé, irrelevant, or beneath me. I am not trying to point out any fallacies within the textbook Christian testimony, because there are none. No, there is power within the Gospel as we share it despite however great or small a grasp we have of it.
But, sharing a doctrine is not the same thing as articulating salvation’s life-in-me. And that is what I want to talk about.
I love challenging people with the following assignment: contemplate your testimony. Especially for those steeped in church-pedigree, what does salvation mean to us? What is your tactile understanding of it, and how has it played out in your life?
If I was walking with a fellow peer, and he/she asked, “What does (The Bible, Christianity, Jesus, church, ‘being saved’) mean for you?” Would I have a true-to-me reply? It’s not so much that I want to have a “right” answer at-the-ready, for my own ego’s sake. Though sadly, there is that… But really, it is good for me to ponder simply for the sake of knowing it within my own self.
Remembering, seeing, and knowing Christ— if I can’t somehow trace the pattern of salvation in my history, well then, is it really there?
OK. Blah. Enough of this, I’ve built up my premise, and I’m pretty sure you and I were on the same page anyway, about the blessedness of the Word of God, and the importance of truly knowing Christ-in-us.
Mostly, I’m just hoping to share my evolving observations as a fellow witness to salvation. Right now, I am throwing and forming a version of a macro-view testimony—as in, not specific to me per se, but specific to all of creation. It’s an explanation that makes sense to me, based on what I observe, and what I’ve been taught. Perhaps I cannot prove my testimony but at this point, there is nothing to disprove it. I write this post from my perspective as a saved, created being, and this is my declaration as I see it in the stars and in the Bible and as it works itself out in my life today.
Contemplation is a form of worship for me—it’s a posture of awe and wonder. Who am I, that God would put the prose of eternity in my mind, and transform me to love it and even grasp a teeny bit of it? I wonder and pursue, not that I must know, but I must wonder—in the same way that I’m inclined to wonder what it would be like to eat fresh oysters at sunset on the coast of Croatia, or what the view is like atop the alps in Switzerland.
For those who worship naturally in another manner, I respect you and your method, too. I understand that my hoping that people will wrestle through a contemplative post would be like someone asking me to find God at the end of an algebraic equation. Gah! So, thank you for reading on. I appreciate that you would contort yourselves to accommodate conjectural thought.
“Woe to me if I do not write”, says the writer. And woe to the thinker who does not express, just as Paul says of preaching the gospel. Pent-up thought is like constipation—like carrying around a baby that is three months overdue. So without further adieu, here is where I stand today: my creed—including re-racking and long shots—a compilation, in step-by-step fashion, of thought on “What is Salvation to Creation” (subject to change, anything but airtight, and open to criticism and other ideas from anyone), and if my peer innocuously asked for the outline of my faith, I’d probably stick to the bold text, and fill then fill it in upon further request:
- There is a God—the Creator God.
- Ipso facto: There is a being—a one and only God—who is infinite, eternal, all-knowing, omnipresent, related to all things, constructive, ordaining, unifying…
- This is a faith—a belief. A “hidden in plain sight” conclusion. The mind may or may not naturally believe or accept this. This acceptance is a gift imparted to that hidden place in creation which believes and accepts.
- By accepting this, we concurrently accept that we ourselves are not all knowing, all powerful, supreme, etc.
- God loves His creation.
- This is another leap of faith in light of the suffering within creation; but with the eyes to see, hidden in the details of creation are great care, exquisite detail, purposeful design, and thoughtful sustenance, which seem to speak to the fact that God is deeply fond of—enraptured by—every big and small thing of creation.
- He calls His creation good (Genesis). “It is lovely because it is loved”, says my children’s Bible. “God loves us”, says Richard Rohr, “not because we are good (or bad!–our worthiness is not the lovable condition), but because God is good”.
- “Love” connotes “relationship”. If God loves–if God IS love (1 John 4:8)–could it be for any other reason than that God is relational, and vice versa. God the Trinity—God, Jesus, Holy Spirit–created of this image.
- His purpose and intent for creating is to love and interact with His creation. His intent is oneness with creation.
- Because He loves, God’s intent is for the good of all things; and because He is God, it will happen.
- Creation by nature is finite and incomplete, and made with gravitational pulls.
- Like the Creator, creation plays a part in creating, ruling, and loving, but creation is not the Alpha/Omega. Creation is a dependent, though it doesn’t always like to think so.
- Following its inception, creation commonly has mass/gravity. These characteristics pull it into itself (think orbits, youth, and political power); and yet, “It is good”—or at least, planned and accounted for—says the One who designs all things, because everything is working toward God’s ultimate design. The omnipresent Creator exists also in this order of creation, that it would eventually transform into a God-centric order. (Perhaps Lucifer and Eve were just playing out their preordained roles).
- In humans, our finiteness, incompletion and self-orbiting nature can evoke worry, greed, wrath, pride… (the “sins” of our death-bound nature). This causes all sorts of tragic ripple effects.
- Christ is the first-complete and firstborn of creation. Christ embodies the The Way of Salvation—The Way to The Creator.
- This is to say that Salvation/Redemption and other Christ-adjectives are who/what were created FIRST, immanently perfecting God’s creation as it increases and evolves.
- He is our Firstborn—we are related, and his composition is buried deep within all of us.
- That redemption was created first, suggests again, the likelihood that God expected/designed that there would be a need for it. Our fallibility isn’t our “fault”. To think that way is sort of a byproduct of self-centeredness. Or at least, maybe we have far less blame than we take in being born “sinners”, just as we tend to take far too much credit for being saved.
- Separately, there is an embodiment of anti-Salvation, a force commonly named Satan, which serves to separate our world’s creation from its Creator. Satan perpetuates our incompletion and pulls the human from salvation, by infusing our thoughts with lies: “God does not exist”, “None of this exists”, “A relationship with God is impossible”, “I’m not worthy of salvation”, “God is not relevant to me”, “I am the most important”, and so on. These thoughts keep us from recognizing or acting on the truth that Creation needs its Creator. Satan provides a way out of unity with God.
- Creation is perfected as it is in relationship with its Creator.
- The final-ultimate state of Creation and Creator is unity in and under the Creator God. This is where we’re going. This is where we’re headed.
- The relational God desires a relationship with creation; and creation is designed that God is both enough for, and the answer to, creation’s incompleteness.
- This certainty is the human’s empowering hope, and that hope glorifies God, effectively saying “He is my Savior, and I am not”.
- Unity with the Creator fulfills and validates creation, making it complete and immune to the disease of finiteness, slowly transforming the human, eliminating the need for greed, lust, etc.
- God creates via process.
- Creation is not finished, but is in its “Final Days” as of the death and resurrection of Christ 2000 years ago, according to the Bible. I guess it gets worse before it gets better…
- Unity with the Creator is possible by way of sacrifice.
- Unity—creation’s salvation (or, creation’s perfection in the Creator God)—was made possible when God and Creation were embodied in the form of Jesus, the Christ Incarnate. “Skin-Upon-Salvation” embedded itself within creation, integrating eternal life with the dying Creation.
- Jesus provided the way into unity with God by bearing creation’s state of separation, and the subsequent, eternal consequence—death. (I still can’t grok this mystery. I find myself saying it all the time in different ways, in hopes that it will make sense to me).
- Since Creation took, and is still digesting, the fruit of “I can do it myself” (ergo, separation), Christ willingly allowed himself to become separated with us, and became the first to be plucked and restored to a state of “The Father and I are one”. As all things are created through Christ, so also is our union in Him–the Firstborn of all things.
- Based on what the Bible says of the life of Jesus, this is the way of salvation, and the way it “works itself out”: It humbly lowers itself into a relationship with the beloved Creation. It surrenders itself to the constructive hand of the Creator. It empties itself of any will other than the Creator. It accepts the consequences of the thoughts and actions done in creation’s un-unified and death-doomed bodies. Therefore, it dies.
- Then the Creator, who is and who created Salvation breathes life and power into death (the emptied object), and re-creates that creation into something that can be united with the Creator. It is reborn, made new, and made eternally in union with God at last where it belongs.
- We have been given an opportunity for unity with God, if we want it, because God loves us.
- We can be brought into this completing relationship as we do as salvation does—as Christ did—which is this: trust in the Creator God, and surrender ourselves to Him. We humble ourselves, saying something like, “Not me, but you, God. Neither the world, nor my own flesh and blood are the answer to the dissatisfaction and unrest of my nature. Be my answer, God.”
- Eternal life includes today. I am on the trajectory—known and purposed—today. All things are working toward the ultimate eventuality of unity, today.
- Just as all things are created via a process, perfect completion and union with the Creator is made so via a process: push, pull; one step forward, one step back; mountains and valleys; triumphant and cataclysmic at times as evidenced in the study of creation. And a whole lotta mundanity.
- Because creation is not the ultimate template-maker, it does not determine order, but it can choose to go along with it. It does not save itself, but it can choose to be saved. But ultimately, it is saved only because of God’s desire for it, and He desires all of creation.
Separation is a funny thing. It is possibly a delusion. Take for example, quantum mechanics. You might be interested to know that particle physicists are discovering hints of a connection of things despite their “apart-ness”. Plainly put, “this” particle here is affected by, or reacts with “that” particle there, despite the seeming disconnection.
In the same way, creation is clearly disjointed or broken apart, and far from perfection, but the nearness of the solution is not just “there”, it is “here” and everywhere in between. There is a divine response (empathy) to creation’s reality, and despite creation’s presumption of the Creator’s indifference or non-existence, the Creator is deeply connected to it. The generous and compassionate response to our broken nature is the life and death of Christ—our firstborn—whose resurrected life is in and through all things, working today to restore all things to unity with God.
Believing in separation—believing the lie that we aren’t afforded the option to connect, or that there is nothing to connect to but our own might, is what yields eternal futility.
And yet, the other very real hemline says: if we don’t believe that creation has been separated from God, we are in danger of not consciously choosing to be united with Him. If we don’t see our incomplete, depleting nature as creation—if we live a life of pride, or a life exempt of consequence, if we live in excess, if we have evaded responsibility, if our life does not include struggle, tragedy, or mundanity—then we are in danger of not knowing our reality: that we have an innate, inescapable need for the Creator God.
I have so many questions, like: Why the two acts (separation-union)? I understand that love will not force itself, but why create, in the first place, a creation with an inclination for separation, yet a need for unity? These two opposites are so different, yet so close to one another. But why can’t they just be together in the first place and avoid the whole messy process of integration? Is even God powerless to change the characteristics of mass and energy? Or is that just the story with this universe…
Somewhere near Geneva, Switzerland, and the empirical data soon to be collected from the latest round of experiments conducted by the Hadron Collider might yield enlightenment. Yes, I’m a geek-o-phile—not smart enough to be a geek, but a geekophile, indeed. But also, there is something to be gained by examining the process of salvation in us. And the texts in the Bible. And the unplanned words uttered from my seven and nine year-old. And the Sierra-Nevada ecosystem. Everywhere! Our unity deepens and strengthens as we seek to know it better, and as we believe that our salvation is very near to us.
I am fascinated by two opposite-seeming things integrating, or trying to integrate, and being remade in the process: Husband and wife. Racism and Civil Rights. Justice and Mercy. Energy and a Black Hole. “Bad” things happening to “good” people. People who value conformity, migrating to countries which values independence. Freedom and Iraq. Creator and creation… What will happen??? I am certainly all eyes.
While creation is pulled its own way, the Creator draws us near. Unity is the thing that is being worked toward, despite ourselves. If perfection is the union—a perfect balance—of differences (creator and created), then we could consider “uniting harmoniously with discrepancy” each day to be a divine practice, rather than evidence of a world out of control.
This is excruciating news to an introvert like me who would gladly spend all her money on building distance between me and … everything? A private gate guarding a private road on a private island to a private perch… Yes please!
But alas, God values all of creation; will creation value Him? Will creation learn to reciprocate the deep love of God all around us, and find its fulfillment there?
Well, this is the real cycle of things—to gain some understanding and then end up with more questions.
Anyway, thanks for reading.