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
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. …