Jesus is Not My Personal Saviour

I wrote recently that I believe community will save the world. And I keep coming back to that.

I’m believing less and less in personal salvation.

Because if I am experiencing salvation, it’s through community. I’m only getting there because of you guys.

If left to my own devices, my own will, I know I am doomed to hell. (“Hell,” by the way, is not necessarily a place you go after you die. But I’m not going to get into that here.) I have a weak, pitiful, petty soul – I can feel it. All I really care about is my own comfort. I don’t want to help anyone or take responsibility for anything or even seek after goodness on my own.

But you guys encourage and inspire me. Your kind words, your generous offerings, your shining example turn me towards God.

In different circumstances – if I’d been born to a different family at a different time and in a different cultural context – I could be a total monster. I know I would. It’s only because I’m embedded in this community that I am as nice and temperate and disciplined as I am. There is nothing essentially good about my heart or anything.

It doesn’t feel totally accurate or complete, then, to say Jesus is saving me. He may be the source of all goodness, but he’s doing the saving through a multitude of people. My family, my husband and kids, my friends, my blog readers. They’re all a part of it. Their collective love and support is carrying me to heaven.

And I think that’s called the Holy Spirit. The collective power of hearts fueled by love. (But maybe I’m wrong. The Holy Spirit is so tricky to define and pin down.)

Sometimes I feel like together we’re a living organism on our way to heaven. You know . . . a Body. (Hey, didn’t Paul say something about that?) None of us could get there on our own.

So I don’t feel right saying things like “Jesus is my personal lord and saviour.” For starters, I almost never feel like he speaks directly to me in private. I almost exclusively know him through you folks, and he only enters my heart through interactions with you (and the authors and pastors who speak to me through books and podcasts.) Jesus is our lord and saviour. We are saved collectively.

And I’m not even sure everyone in this Body would agree or say it that way (I’m looking at you, my favourite atheist friend. You’re helping to save me, whether you mean to or not), but I don’t think that makes it any less true.

Thank you for being the Body and for helping me to be a part of it.

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  1. This made complete sense to me, although you said it more beautifully than I ever could. When I was young, I didn’t care for the idea that I was weak, pitiful, and petty, and always would be. I found that profoundly depressing. Now, at middle age. . . it just seems true. There’s no escaping we all need help, all of the time.

  2. Makes perfect sense to me, too…..because it sounds a bit Catholic ;)
    Haley @ Carrots for Michaelmas recently posted..You Don’t Have to Go to Grad School (to have a life of the mind)My Profile

  3. Melissa Fulmer says:

    You are such a beautiful person Kathleen! I agree left to ourselves there is not telling what would become of some of us! I recently saw the movie Ragamuffin about the late Rich Mullins and his struggles. My favorite part is when he meets an elderly pastor, who has a similar struggle, and that pastor reaches out to him. It seemed to be a game changer for him, it was beautiful to watch God’s love in action!

  4. I sent this Stanley Hauerwas quote to a friend yesterday – seems to say pretty much what you just said: “Christianity is the name given that company across the generations that have
    learned from one another the skills necessary for the worship of the God made
    known in Jesus Christ. Of course, worship itself is a skill distinguishable
    only by the centrality and purpose it gives to all that Christians do. Like
    cricket, or baseball, the worship of God to be appropriately “appreciated”
    requires mastery that comes from “playing” well, but such mastery requires
    masters located within the company. So the skills required to worship well are
    not separable from the company itself. That is why theology, even one that is
    strictly “orthodox”, proves insufficient for the care of the tradition, since it
    lacks the company necessary for it to do its work for the up-building of the
    community.” p9, In Good Company

  5. I got a shout out! The most lovely and loving of shout outs! Ha! :)

    Actually, even before I got to that part, I was going to comment that I absolutely love this post. Well, I always love when you write about your faith. But for this post in particular, you know how I feel about the Holy Spirit (or my concept of it anyway). “The collective power of hearts fueled by love.” Now *that* is my religion! (Thanks for so eloquently putting words to it for me!)There’s so much goodness. And you are a part of it. Which leads me to this- I have to adamantly disagree and forcefully tell you: your heart is beautiful. I’ve seen it, I’ve felt it, I know it.

  6. Beautiful and thank you. Though I attend church every week, I’m uncomfortable with “church speak” outside that context, considering myself more spiritual. But you just explained something I consider to be a fundamental truth about the world in different words than I would have chosen, and I love that. I love that there are so many ways to say the same thing and that our spiritual interdependence is clear to anyone with an open heart.

  7. This is awesome! I really struggle with this, because often times I feel cut off from the body of Christ, a and there’s a lot of baggage associated with church. But that’s kind of the point isn’t it? That wouldn’t be a big deal if community wasn’t so vital. (And I’m so with you on hell not necessarily being a place, though some would faint to hear me say it.)

  8. Kathleen,

    Nearly all I can say is…wow. And that I agree with this in so many ways – though I must admit, I’m not sure that I have thought about it all in exactly this way before. Thank you so much for these words – it helps me make sense of things I have only begun to figure out…

    This is why I was hooked on your blog from the first time I stumbled upon it. I love the thoughts that you share here, and the way in which you share them. I so appreciate your insights. I truly feel I am a better person after reading this blog. And I truly feel this blog has helped me to build the better life I desire. Thank you for sharing yourself with the world this way. The world is truly a better place for it.

    I will continue to pray for your family whenever you come to mind (which might be more than you think, considering we don’t know each other and I’m just a random blog reader from the US).

    I hope you all are doing as well as you can be, and that God continues to send His love into your lives – as well as healing, peace, comfort, strength, joyful moments in the chaos and sadness, closeness with family, kind and helpful and caring medical staff, and all other good things that could possibly be helpful right now.

  9. Just lovely. I mostly feel that Jesus talks to me through other people, too. And it is just like Him to do that…He rarely said anything directly, but always through stories of other people. When I broke the chains of the scary church I was raised in and found a more loving community, I found a whole world full of Jesus. Prayers for you and your sweet baby.
    Janie recently posted..Epiphany at the MoviesMy Profile

  10. Shelby Steel says:

    You are such an inspiration. I have been reading your blog for some time and never comment – but I love it. I pray for Felix and your beautiful family constantly. I have been checking for updates – please give us the praise testimony when you get a moment. Many blessings and much love.

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