SOME months ago I started using a new computer system. On it, the method of keeping an electronic copy of a document is to press a key appropriately marked "Save. Whenever I do this, the computer tells me that the document--giving its name--has been saved. So, for instance, if I were writing a letter to Jane Smith and called the document by that name, the computer would tell me, "Jane Smith saved.
One day this statement caught my attention in a different context. I'd been thinking about Christ Jesus' efforts to save mankind, to show us our true spiritual nature and our relationship to God. As I wrote my letter to "Tom Jones and was told by the computer that "Tom Jones was "saved, I wondered for a moment if salvation could be that simple!
Is it really possible to give up sin? Most of sin's appeal, of course, is that it seems to promise the gratification of some desire. But because sin's allure is based on materiality--which is always subject to chance, decay, and loss--it can't really give us happiness. Matter is destructible, so sooner or later we will need to start our quest for love, joy, and hope all over again.
By that standard, salvation seems pretty far off. Yet when John the Baptist began to preach about the salvation Jesus would bring, Matthew's Gospel records that his message was simple: "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
To repent is often interpreted as meaning "turn again or "turn back. In other words, to turn around and go in a new direction. John was telling the people to cease looking for hope and health in material living or in physicality. He was saying that true salvation lay in the more spiritual sense of living that was soon to be fully articulated in Christ Jesus' ministry.
Jesus knew that man's relationship to God is central. For him, the kingdom of heaven wasn't just nearby. He taught that it was actually within each one of us, and that we needed to perceive that fact and live in accord with it. His promise was that if we did this, we would be rewarded beyond measure with health, joy, peace, satisfaction. He understood that the God he loved and wanted others to know was perfect, good. That God loves each of His children. To Jesus, salvation was an illustration of God's love and was something each of us could experience. But he also knew we had to accept the good we are meant to have from God.
This is where repentance comes in. To turn to God and to the real spiritual nature He has bestowed on us is to turn away from the material view of things, which is unsatisfactory and limited. When we are willing to do this, even a little, we begin to see how much influence the Christ, Truth, has on our thoughts and expectations. …