When I was a kid I went to a Southern Baptist church every Sunday…and Wednesday…and Sunday night…and any other time the doors were open. You may think my family was religious, but we weren’t…my Dad was a pastor and music minister so we HAD to be there! Because I was a kid I didn’t know any different and most of the time I enjoyed my time and learned a lot about a lot of things.
One of the primary things I was taught by the Southern Baptists is that I am a sinner. It’s one of the keys to their view of salvation. In fact, the majority of American denominations start from that vantage point. If you want to convince someone they need Jesus you must first demonstrate a need and that need revolves around the person’s sinful nature. We called it taking them down the “Roman Road”.
Before I move further let me affirm the truth of the last paragraph. We ARE sinners with a sinful nature. Scripture is clear on this and humanity proves this daily. We are sinners and we do need a Savior. That’s basic Christianity. But is there another view of salvation that might help people see a different side of Jesus and perhaps lead them to Him?
I believe there is.
Years of Southern Baptist teaching led me to one inescapable conclusion: I was worthless. As a dead, broken, worthless sinner I had no value until Jesus gave me value. I needed Jesus to provide me with a NEW life so I would be worth something. Until then I was basically worthless.
Now I’m not pinning that belief on the Southern Baptists. I love them and don’t think their intention was to promote a worthless self image. Nor do I believe that self image is the cure-all that many moderns believe it to be. But it is important because it determines how we see ourselves, and when we hammer people with the “you’re a SINNER!” mantra over and over again we are emphasizing the negative rather than the positive.
Before I move on let me make clear that we are all born as inherently sinful beings. Yes, we are sinners as the Bible teaches, but we are more.
Have you ever wondered why God would send Jesus to die for us all and remove sin from existence if we were all worthless creatures? If we have NO value at all, why would God burden Himself with salvation at all? Why would Jesus die if we were completely devoid of value?
The answer should be obvious. You and I, indeed all humans on earth and even all creation itself, have immense value to God. Even if we reject Jesus and defy God and try to be the master of our own destiny, God still loves us and sees value within us. Jesus came to earth and died on the cross and rose again because He loves ALL people and sees value in ALL people. It is the love of Christ that overwhelms us and in His love we see our beautiful value reflected back.
So I hope you will take from this short post a simple fact: YOU have VALUE. No matter what you’ve done. No matter how you’ve behaved. No matter how sinful you’ve been…YOU have VALUE to God. And that is why He seeks to save you. Not because He feels sorry for this poor, worthless piece of trash and decided to help one more filthy beggar out. Jesus, our Creator, knows the value stored within each person because He put it there.
Salvation, in a positive light, is about restoring brokenness. Lots of people are quick to believe they are “good” because they are generally moral people. But most people will readily admit they are broken. They’ve experienced hurt and pain and they know where they have issues and where they mess up.
My encouragement to you is not to abandon the traditional “negative” view of salvation because it has purpose. We are indeed sinners in need of a Savior. But in today’s society a “positive” view may offer more traction. Rather than hammering people with the “you’re a sinner” mantra, why not offer them a different vantage point on Jesus. We can share this good news with people: Jesus loves you and sees value within you and He wants to mend your broken places and bring you to completion and wholeness.
That’s another view of salvation.