Hope for Living: Don’t make it more complicated than it is

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Recently I read an article that asked: Has American Christianity been a failure? I’ve thought about that question a lot lately.

I thought about it a couple of weeks ago, while I was at a dance with my wife. We were sitting with some people we had taken dance lessons with, all nice people, whose company we very much enjoy.

Someone at the table brought up the subject of religion, and from there began a discussion about what was required for salvation. What did a person have to have, or do, to feel like they were right with God?

Being the resident preacher in the group and not wanting to come off as preachy, I chose to stay silent and just listen to the conversation. And I was struck, not so much by what I heard, but by what I did not hear: Jesus.

The name “Jesus,” what He did, and what His role is as Savior played no part in what these dear folks were saying. And mind you, these were all people who were engaging in the discussion from a Christian perspective. None of them seemed to know anything about being saved because none of them seemed to know anything about God’s Son: Jesus Christ. I was shocked, and saddened, all at once.

As we drove home that night I shared my sadness with my wife, and we both lamented that so many from the Christian religion could speak of something so simple with so little understanding.

I was reminded of the question from that article: Has American Christianity been a failure? Judging from what I’d witnessed that night, the answer is clearly yes.

The truth is that the answer to the question about salvation is simple: Salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ. If you believe that Jesus died on a cross for your sins, and was raised to life again on Easter, you’re saved. As the Bible says it: “… if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

“God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

On and on it goes — one verse after another, one chapter and book after another. The message of the Bible is clear: “… believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). It really isn’t any more complicated than that.

Christians the world over now find themselves in a special time of year: the season of Lent, which is a time of preparation for Holy Week and, after that, Easter. There will be special services to attend and rituals of ceremony to observe, but it all points in the direction of one thing: the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Salvation is about that. Being right with God comes from believing in His Son.

It’s simple.

The Rev. Dan O’Connor is pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Greenfield. This weekly column is written by local clergy members. Send comments to [email protected].