Lesson 6: Care For All

As Bob observed, “Lupe’s comments throw open the gates in defining salvation, using the concept as a key to address some of the core social and theological issues”. I think that is exactly how the Bible uses the idea.

For instance, I think she is echoing the scriptures when her reflections of an “unquiet soul” slam home the question “How can any Christian be satisfied if the rest of the world is suffering?” or put another way, “How can this be salvation if any of us are suffering?” Many times when I am blithely defining faith as thanking God for the blessings he has poured out on us, a perceptive participant challenges me with “And where does that leave people starving in Africa?”

Almost all the Bible’s pictures of salvation feature a loving and just community that cares for every last person. Even a casual reading of the Law finds it teaches not only to be fair but also to care for the disadvantaged. The Prophets focus on the duty of the strong to care for the weak. And the Gospel promises good news to the poor. We heard it in Luke’s version of the Beatitudes on All Saints. “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh” (Luke 6: 20-22)

Of course, that is not the salvation everyone wants. Some welcome the abundant life as a sign God favors them above others. Many candidates in our recent US election insisted God blesses our nation and especially its wealthy citizens for doing his will. They used this as a justification for opposing social programs, insinuating the poor do not deserve our care.

That makes it critical that the Church witnesses in her actions to God’s salvation. Sue Hill in Sunday’s “Frontline Devotion” showed infant baptism is a great example. What better sign than bringing a helpless infant into the community and promising to care for his or her needs. She wrote, “So, our little girl has started her journey as a child of God. We say “Amen!” and begin the work to keep the way clear so she can grow in strength in the Lord. It’s a blessing to share in her life! We are in this together! Thanks be to God!”

Every once in a while I muse one way to capture the spirit of salvation is to picture Jesus standing in our churches and proclaiming” None of you are saved unless all of you are saved!” It is not a very theological thought, but it certainly would deepen our determination and strengthen our courage, if we all thought it was.

After reading Lupe, Mike said he found Karen Armstrong’s The Spiral Staircase: My Climb out of Darkness helpful in confronting the contemporary issues she describes.

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