Wednesday, 24 October 2007

From the Other Side

Quite a different day today. Thanks to a colleague who was unavailable I was asked to take part in a debate on Halloween for the BBC Radio Wales programme All things Considered with Roy Jenkins (to be broadcast on Sunday). I'm always fascinated by the workings of Radio and TV, getting behind the scenes of something we only see from the other side. Not many people get the opportunity, so I was glad to say yes. I joined three others in the debate: a retired Roman Catholic priest called Fr Ambrose, Elin, a Christian historian (on the phone line) and Ray, an evangelical minister. I suppose I was not surprised by much of what the latter said: I knew I would often be a hundred miles away from much of his belief system. After the debate the conversation continued, until we were politely kicked out of the studio! Apparently, so he told us and so the statistics go, there are more Christians on earth at the moment than there are in heaven. Which was was a discreet way of saying that among the millions and billions of people who have followed Jesus in the past only those who followed his belief system have been 'saved' and get in through those symbolic pearly gates. I asked him if I was saved? The answer was rather vague!

Sometimes vague answers are good, especially when talking about the life of heaven. We can get caught up so much with the whats and hows and 'what's it like' and 'how do you get there 'and 'what do you mean by that' and 'why do you say what you say!' But it was fairly frustrating (though peculiarly predictable) that the answer to my question to his specific statistics on my own salvation was vague, to say the least! It was, perhaps, an avoidance of saying what he really wanted to say to me. But who knows?! I don't see things from his side of things!

The 'born again' experience necessary to the salvation of which he spoke was an event in time, a specific moment of accepting Christ as Saviour. All well and good but it said nothing about the ongoing conversion that one experiences when following Jesus, that continuous dying to self. It omitted the gentle moulding and remoulding, the mistakes and meanderings, the seeking and searching, the being found and the gentle acceptance of the person we are - as well as the person God wants us to be. It missed out the mending of broken hearts that come from a lifetime of pain and sometimes too much pleasure. And so I find myself, right now, left with a rather vague and unsatisfactory spiel on salvation, trying to get behind the scenes of something we only see from our side and, even worse, trying to plough through it in three paragraphs! So am I saved? I suspect God has a little more patience and understanding than we often give him credit. And considering my own little life that's just as well.

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