Notes from another country part 2
I’ve been leading a small Cornhill missions team this last week. We’ve been abroad somewhere hot and somewhere increasingly difficult to be a Christian. It’s probably not appropriate for me to say where (or necessary, even) because I don’t want to put believers at risk. But, as ever, my heart has been stirred and my faith has been challenged by being with believers from a different culture. For sure, other cultures have their blind spots – and they are painfully obvious. But, more to the point, being with Christians in another culture allows us to see our own blind spots more clearly. And it’s this I want to write about this week.
I notice here that when people speak about their faith, they are quick to acknowledge that salvation is a remarkable miracle. Not everyone is saved from a heathen background. Many people have similar testimonies to those back home – raised in Christian or nominal Christian homes, a history of Sunday School and Bible class. And yet, nearly everyone I meet talks about their salvation with a deep sense of gratitude to God and a realisation that he has worked a mighty work.
It made me conscious of the rather ordinary view of salvation I sometimes hold. I have lost a sense of wonder and marvel that, though I was dead in my transgressions and sins, Christ died for me and made me his. The particular church I’m in sing quite a few Victorian US hymns: at one level these are quite quaint and it’s possible to long for the deeper and richer theology of a Toplady or a Watts. But on the other, they express a wonder and delight at salvation that we have sometimes lost. “Blessed assurance” and “Count your blessings” and “What can wash away my sins” all capture something of this wonder.
We can be, I guess, in great danger of being far too cerebral about our salvation. We understand what God has done for us in Christ, but do we really feel it? Does it thrill our souls like it used to (if it ever did?). I’m deeply convicted about this. And I’m thinking through how I can encourage my people back home to feel again this renewed sense of wonder and awe at the miracle of salvation.