So, I got a text from a friend this past weekend. It said…..
“please call me A.S.A.P.”
my first thought was…
“oh sh*t, who died?”
(just being real here. I try not to cuss in front of my child, but let’s be honest, inside my head…yup, I did use those words and it would be dishonest to tell you otherwise.)
So I clicked on her number. This friend, let’s call her SB, is someone I don’t talk to often. Like once every 5 or 10 YEARS. But we have mutual friends that she would get news about faster than me if something bad had happened. So I sat there, at 9:30 on a Saturday morning, listening to the dial tone and the ringing with my heart pounding.
She answered, and was so cheerful I knew at once that nothing like *that* had happened. Now I’m curious, what on earth was so important that she needed to reach out to me on a Saturday morning with that urgent message? I wasn’t upset, just puzzled.
Turns out she was worried about something she had seen on my Facebook feed. Something that was innocent on my end, but might lead people to believe that I endorse or approve of a particular person who has strong connections to Satanists, Nihilists and other agents of chaos.
Let’s stop and think about that for a minute.
Think of the courage and compassion it took to see someone in error and literally call them on it.
SB didn’t judge me. She skipped over that and went straight to the heart of the matter – concern for her fellow Christians. She wasn’t concerned about me. She knows me well enough to know that I’m not personally heading down a negative path, but she was concerned for my witness and for people who might be confused by seeing links to such things on the Facebook feed of a professing Christian.
“But be careful with your freedom.
Your freedom may cause those who are weak in faith to fall into sin.
I Corinthians 8:9″
Funny how Paul is so relevant, even today. He was talking about the right to eat anything, but that could just as easily apply to my right to read (or mentally consume) anything. It doesn’t give me the right to put potentially dangerous meat out there for others to consume.
I explained to SB the reason that person was even on my friends list. A person from my childhood that I care deeply for, pray for and treasure. We discussed ways to keep my friendship with this person intact and still guard against spreading or appearing to endorse beliefs and practices so counter to my own.
Message spoken. Message received.
It was a wide ranging conversation. We discussed raising of our kids, our fitness agendas (or lack of them in my case) and our past friends and connections. We even discussed the fact that she was nervous about calling me. Which I find hysterical. She said she felt like she was calling someone famous !!!!! On the flip side, I still get a HUGE kick out of the fact that this person who I hero worshiped when I was an underclassmen and she was a ultra-cool upper-classman is actually a fan of my writing ! So it was kind of a mutual admiration society there for a minute, which was fun.
Deirdre, get to the point.
As the conversation was starting to wrap up we wandered back to the original topic of friends and acquaintances who we need to keep as friends and show them love, while still not approving of their choices. I then made the comment that I wished my brother Stephen had made better choices and that I wished I could believe that he was in heaven. He was such a devout Christian as a kid. He would witness to literally anyone. He really loved Jesus. His faith was so strong. God was always his first thought. Prayer was his first answer to anything. But then he hit the teenage years and started questioning everything. He headed down some dark paths and he never looked back.
So when he died a couple of years ago, I started struggling with a question that troubles many people…….
“can you lose your salvation?”
I wanted so much for Stephen to be safely in heaven, that I convinced myself that I wanted it too much. It was comfortable to think that he was in heaven, so therefore it couldn’t possibly be true. So often in our Christian walk, Truth is difficult. So if I believed something simple and comfortable, it had to be wrong. Get it? See the trap I was falling into?
Then SB said something that rocked my world.
“IF you could lose your salvation,
that would imply you could have earned it to begin with.
You cannot lose your salvation”
That pulled me up short.
Most of us are pretty clear on the straightforward reading of Ephesians 2: 8 – 10
“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and
this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God,
not by works so that no one can boast.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance as our way of life.…
Ephesians 2: 8-10”
We can’t earn salvation. Got it. No intellectual problems with that.
Sometimes I still try to earn it though. I beat myself up for my sins. Current ones (see cussing, above) and past mistakes (divorce, lies, greed, gluttony the list goes on and on and it’s not something I should share anyway). Anyway, I fall prey All. The. Time. to the LIE that I have to be good enough to earn God’s favor.
But Guess what?
I CAN’T DO IT
I have absolutely ZERO earning potential when it comes to saving my soul.
But turning this verse on it’s head, essentially doing the math and realizing that if I can’t EARN salvation, then I can’t UN-EARN it either is something I had never really processed.
Time for School. Let’s go back to Algebra for a second here. Math. Yes I’m quoting math. Never thought THAT would happen…
Properties of Zero
0 added or subtracted to anything equals itself
0 multiplied by anything equals 0
0 divided by anything equals 0
We cannot divide by 0
So take “a” as GRACE or Salvation.
God has declared that I can literally not add one single thing to my salvation. That means I am the ZERO in this equation.
ZERO literally does NOTHING to the equation. Zero can’t add anything to the value. Zero can’t remove anything from the value. Zero can’t multiply or divide the initial value.
GRACE is completely UNCHANGED by anything the ZERO (me) can attempt to do to it.
just dwell on that for a minute.
not to be trite, but
So now I know.
My brother Stephen is in heaven. I know this to be true, because I know my salvation is true. I can’t earn it. And Stephen couldn’t UN-EARN it. No matter how hard he tried.
you have no idea what a blessing that surety is for me.
So thank you SB. Thank you for reading my stuff. Thank you for pestering me into writing again. Thank you for seeing God in at least some of what I write. and Thank you for listening to the Holy Spirit and reaching out to me to deliver TWO messages from God this past weekend. I am humbled and honored to be cared for by someone like you.
and I’m ever so glad to have ZERO earning potential.