What if salvation simply means becoming more human? That’s my new theory. Which really isn’t new. Nor is it mine.
In the days before Jesus ministry began, the world seemed on the edge-of-its-seat, knowing something history-altering was about to go down. “Everyone was expecting the Messiah”, as Luke tells it in chapter 3 of his account of the Jesus story. The crowds were pushing their way toward John the Baptist because he seemed to be in-the-know. They hoped that he might help them prepare — to get ready for whatever it was they needed to get ready for.
“What must we do?” is their desperate question. It comes 3 times. First from the crowds at large. But then two more times from subsets of this larger group. The tax collectors come forward with the same urgent question on their lips. “Teacher, what should we do?” And then some soldiers come forward and ask yet again, “And what should we do?”
Each time, John responds the same way. Become more human.
To the masses, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.” To the tax collectors, “No more extortion—collect only what is required by law.” To the soldiers, “Don’t take money from anyone by force or accuse anyone falsely. Be content with your pay.”
Become more human.
Learn to see people. Learn to respect and show deference to others. Instead of seeing others as a means for gain, see them as real, flesh-and-blood, people with homes and families and people they love.
Become more human.
Jesus himself preaches the same message. Salvation isn’t a formulaic prayer nor is it acquiring a heavenly access-code for when we pass from this earth. In Matthew 7, Jesus summarizes the entire law and prophets with one simple phrase. “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.”
To Jesus, this seems to be the entire point of faith and the scriptures: become more human. And in doing so, mysteriously we become more like Christ. We become holy. Because to be holy as He is holy is necessarily to become human as He was human.