The cost of Salvation

The Cost of Salvation is Now $14

I’ve mentioned many times before that I live in a very small community. A community I love and spend a great deal of my time challenging and attempting to improve in as many ways as I can. That’s a job I believe we all should attempt to do in our communities – that’s how we shape them to reflect our ideals as opposed to the ideals of those to whom we are opposed. I’m opposed to the ideals of a lot of the people in my community.  Most recently the ideals we’ve been discussing on social media and elsewhere have to do with the cost of salvation and a t-shirt.

The shirt in question is an atrocity of terrible design. It contains within it four different fonts, colors that clash, a desecrated flag, a cross implemented into a flag, and a Native American’s head unironically imprisoned behind the stripes (probably not intentional, but duly noted here).  It’s painful to look at.

The problems with the shirt only begin with terrible design though. See – this shirt was to be sold, on compulsory conditions, by the high school cheer-leading team.  A team which contains atheist members and members from other religions. A team which contains black members and members from other ethnic backgrounds – who – presumably support the NFL players’ protest.  Some adult decided that it was her job to put both her religion and her political stances into a t-shirt design and use that to make money for herself and as a fundraiser to the cheerleaders. 

The shirt; blatantly racist, divisive, political, and pro-christian has no place in our schools. 

Thankfully one of the School Board members (who is a Christian) got wind of it and put a stop to it – and now that board member is being torn to pieces on the public platform by the same Christians who are ordering these things by the handful. The price for salvation and patriotism is only $14, add a dollar for xxl or larger.

What’s the big deal?

Our town has become incensed over this decision. The school board member has been relentlessly berated, called a Muslim (due to her race and last name) and people are calling for her replacement on the board despite her many years of service and her status as the only teacher currently on the board.  I’ve long held that American Christians are intent on being persecuted in the places where it least exists, in this instance the very act of protecting them from lawsuits and ensuring that other students don’t feel isolated is is offensive to their stastes. 

When a group is so accustomed to special rights and privileges, equality feels like oppression.

A selection of some of the comments – with some of the super offensive ones left out.

Responding to Hate

My usual fashion for responding to Christians who, in my best estimation, fail to do what Christians should be doing, is to act like I’m their pastor.  The difference, however, is that unlike their pastor I’m not beholden to them for money. My bills aren’t paid by these people and my lifestyle doesn’t depend on their happiness with my message.  I am, as I’ve mentioned in the past, still trying to do the work that I believe I should within the Church – except from the outside. I use the Bible as I best understand it, sound doctrine as I best understand it, and love to try to convince them of their error. I try to teach Christians about what Jesus would do. I don’t know what else I should do with 18 years of diligent study of the Bible, Biblical history, and the people of the region under my belt but that – and I think that better Christians will actually result in a better world.

Much of the difficulty that Christians are currently experiencing with this shirt is around the word “Pride”. They believe that it behooves them to be both proud of their faith and proud of their country.  While I’m not going to get into patriotism here (or why Jesus and patriotism don’t mix because boy…that’s a subject), the idea of being proud of one’s salvation or one’s faith is asinine to me. Salvation – the receiving of Grace, is an effortless activity. (thus far this has been a Facebook conversation only, unlike most of my activities)

And so I made it into a discussion point:

You are welcome to comment, but keep it respectful – please.

As you will see if you follow that post to it’s comments – the idea that one isn’t supposed to be prideful is a difficult one to swallow. I can provide Christians with scripture to back up my reasoning, and none the less – it’s difficult for them. There’s an idea embedded within the current iteration of this faith that humility is the enemy of this faith rather than a central tenet – that one must boast about the greatness of one’s belief, how willing one is to wear the bright red cross on one’s sleeve (in the presence of like-minded individuals, of course). There is, however, no overwhelming willingness to study it’s tenets or scriptures or learn it’s history.

The Cost of Salvation

There was a point fairly early in Christian history when the cost of salvation changed from  Jesus’ very life to something that the individual must do.  Many blame Paul’s focus on personal holiness and depravity in his epistles. I tend to agree that it left a lot of room for misinterpreting and misdirecting the initial message of the synoptic gospels.  Many Christians will quote the scriptures in that, “salvation is thru Grace alone by faith alone.” Rarely is that followed by consistent belief in that scripture. I think were they to actually believe this verse there would be far less pride in salvation and in the Christian faith and far more simple awe at the receipt of Grace.

That is, in fact, the cost of salvation – nothing at all. The scripture is really clear about it. If the Bible is true at all there is no reason to fight and argue about a T-shirt. No reason to give your attention to perceived persecution or worse, to treat others like your enemy because they’ve done something you disagree with. If the Bible is true salvation is complete, total, unending, and done. In the words of Jesus, finished.

That too is difficult to swallow. 

A God capable of saving the entirety of us all in one fell swoop without so much as our acknowledgement of it.

It’s preferred, it seems, that God require something of us – and that’s just not in the pages of the New Testament. Folks want to say a prayer that makes them saved on such and such a date, wear the right t-shirt, and show their asses on social media when things don’t go their way.  That’s not the heart of this faith.

It’s easy to wear a T-shirt with a cross on it. It’s really hard to wake up every morning and bear your cross, as you were commanded.

The hard thing isn’t being saved in the Christian story. The hard thing is being a Christian.  I’m not seeing a lot of Christians in Dodge County right now.

Update:  The Dodge County News has posted an article on this – and I was quoted in it.