Salvation is like the Wind

Salvation is a very interesting thing.  I have seen people commit their lives to the Lord Jesus and everything about them changes in an instant.  I’ve seen people set free from addictions immediately.  I’ve seen people literally transformed into another person overnight because of Jesus. But I’ve also seen some people commit their lives to Jesus and things didn’t seem to change much for them.  They loved the Lord, came to church meetings but still seemed to struggle with issues in their lives.  Why is it that God seems to change some people instantly and for others it’s more of a journey?

Growing up I believed that “getting saved” was the end result of what God wanted for our lives.  I believed medium_4883065712that once your gave your life to Jesus that everything was supposed to change in an instant.  No more cussing, drinking, partying, lying, etc. etc. For some that was the case.  Others, not so much. But “getting saved” was the end all.  Once you saved, then you had arrived. I didn’t realize then that salvation is a journey.

Then there were all the sermons I heard growing up (and later on preached myself) about how we were supposed to stop sinning.  We were supposed to do this or that in order to please God.  I have since learned that a lot of sermons are simply “sin-management” or “behavior modification” prep talks.  It’s about what I can do to change my life in order for God to be pleased with me and bless me.  Since God has been revealing grace to me over the last few years I have come to see the futility of such preaching.  What many of us, as believers, have tried to do is simply rehabilitate our “old man”.  You just can’t do that.  We must preach about Jesus and what He has already done for us!

Salvation is like the wind.  You can’t predict how it’s going to be or how God is going to work in someone’s life.  I think about what Jesus said in John 3:7-8 where the Pharisee Nicodemus is visiting Jesus.  Jesus is attempting to explain to Nicodemus that he must be born-again, or born spiritually from above.  This is too confusing for Nicodemus.  Jesus makes an interesting statement.

“Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” “  (ESV)

Jesus likens being born-again to the wind.  The wind is very interesting.  One can see the effects of the wind and can even feel the wind but we cannot see the wind.  We can even create wind with machines like fans but still we cannot see the wind.  So, it is with the work of Holy Spirit in our lives.  We can see the effects of His work, but we cannot actually see the spiritual work on the inside of a person.

It seems to me that some Christians think that everything God does will be the same for all people in all places.  medium_4350829281However, I have found that since God is relational, that He works with each person on an individual basis.  Thus salvation isn’t really a one-size-fits-all deal.  Sure, putting your faith in Christ results in a restored relationship with God and allows you the privilege of spending eternity with Jesus.  But we still have to deal with the issues in our lives . . . our character flaws, our imperfections, and our bent towards sin.  Salvation is more than fire insurance when you die.  Salvation is about becoming more appropriately human while here on earth!  That requires an individualized tailored plan from the Father through the Spirit that is geared toward each person individually.  No cookie cutter Christians here.

Think of it like this.  The wind is sometimes soft and gentle, allowing us to enjoy the cool, easy breeze.  The work of the Spirit is like that at times.  He deals with us in a gentle, easy manner.  We enjoy the work that God is doing in our lives.  But, sometimes the wind is violent, like a tornado or hurricane.  It’s amazing to see the effects of a tornado and realize the power of wind.  It seems that, at times, God will work in our lives like that as well.  He comes in and allows things to be messed up and things look disastrous.  However, it is simply His working in our lives, allowing things that don’t need to be there to be gone.  It’s not easy because we want to hang on to some much stuff that we really don’t need.  Just like someone who has lost things in a tornado, they realize what’s important and what isn’t.  They realize that a lot of stuff can be replaced, but lives and relationships are most important. So it is with us during a “spiritual tornado”.  We realize what’s important.  Now, this may not be the best analogy but sometimes our lives are like this.  We go through gentle, easy times with God that are pleasant and comforting.  But we also go through times when it seems that all hell is breaking loose and we are fighting to survive.

Both can be God working out our salvation.

Both can be God changing us from the inside out.

Both can be God taking us to deeper levels in Him.

I believe that sometimes God “let’s the wind blow” in our lives in order to help us see the important things.  It’s so easy to get attached to things that don’t matter.  Salvation is about helping us realize the important things in life and to be most attuned to those essential things.

The main point here is that salvation cannot be defined as one simple prayer or act of faith.  It’s like the wind.  You can see the effects, just like you can see the effects of one’s salvation, but you can’t tell how it’s happening.  The wind is unpredictable, so is salvation.  You can’t just define a cookie-cutter salvation experience for everyone.  God blows into our lives as He chooses . . . sometimes gently, sometimes a bit more boisterous.  However, in the end, our lives are the better for whatever wind He chooses to send.

As a believer I cannot make my salvation experience the norm for everyone else.  I must accept that each believer is to be led by the Holy Spirit.  Their salvation experience may look different than mine but it’s still the same God working in each of us.  God works with us in the manner that we each can handle.  I love that about Him.  The problem is that most of us want everyone else’s experience to look like ours.  When they don’t we can get a bit judgmental and critical.  My job is to love others and walk with them.  At times, yes, we need to confront fellow believers  over issues of sin. (God will deal with those on the outside of the church). But we need to do it with a mind that we have issues in our lives as well. We must always remember that it’s God’s job to bring them along in their journey.  We must always point them to Jesus and not our experience.

Salvation is like the wind.  You can’t see the actual experience of salvation but you can always see its effects.  God knows what He is doing in the lives of people.  Let’s work on pointing people to Jesus instead of always worrying about behavior modification.  When God is blowing things around in our lives, the behavior will change as we surrender to Jesus.  He’s the author and finisher of our faith.  We are not!

Photo credit:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/question_everything/4350829281/
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alicepopkorn/4883065712    AlicePopkorn http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

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