Take a trip with me for one minute.
Imagine there was no afterlife or eternity. That what Jesus accomplished was not about eternal salvation. That you won’t “go on” and see your parents or your children again. How would you feel? Would you be mad? Would you feel cheated?
Imagine that the cross was only about creating communion with God. Providing a way for humans to experience the presence, peace, and comfort of the creator of the universe. Once you died, that’s it.
Would you do anything differently? If the immediate presence of God is all we had, would you try to take part in this gift? Would you strive to feel the Holy Spirit within you while walking down the street? Would your ears perk up at the whispers of God in the wind?
Would you try to be present with others in the here and now? Would any of us care more about the current physical, emotional, and structural suffering of those around us knowing that this existence was the only gift we had been given?
Would your anger subside? Could you get to the point that the opportunity of communion with God is sufficient? That there doesn’t have to be a promise attached to it of something more. That today, right now, you have access to God and that’s it. Could your mind and ego relinquish itself and find peace? Could you reconcile with yourself and learn to cherish the immediate presence of God as the thing that had been bought at the highest price?
We have been granted amazing access to a profound God. Humanity has also been promised salvation in some form upon which our hope rests. But sometimes I wonder how different my spirituality would be if that second part had not been so explicit. And I wonder if, at some point deep down inside, I actually think I did something to deserve eternal salvation. Perhaps, when push comes to shove, I think of salvation as a kind of entitlement, a reward for good behavior, or a contractual obligation…instead of seeing it as the wondrous gift it is. The gift whose value is so great, so costly, that I will never afford it.
I’ve asked these questions of myself lately. And I’ve found that when I allow eternal salvation to be my hope instead of my expectation, something changes inside of me for the better.