The New Testament regularly associates salvation with ‘life’. As John writes, ‘Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life’ (1 John 5:12). When we limit salvation to the forgiveness of sins and an accompanying ticket to heaven, we miss the implications for our lives now.
Our non-believing colleagues are likely to equate ‘life to the full’ with the concept of ‘more’: more possessions, more success, more achievements, more excitement, more leisure, more fun, more money, etc. Jesus offered his followers a life that was full to overflowing. The offer of life was not to be an add-on to our lives, but a re-ordering of the whole of our lives where we die to our own agendas and ego: ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20).
In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis wrote, ‘Christ says, “Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work; I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it … Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked – the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours” … The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self – all your wishes and precautions – to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call “ourselves”, to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be “good”.’
This ‘dying’ is not a once and for all event – it happens throughout each day. C. S. Lewis explains why the real problem of the Christian life comes where we don’t usually look for it: ‘It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day.’
To listen to that ‘other voice’ when there are deadlines to be met, emails awaiting a reply, telephones ringing, and customers requiring service takes practice. For many of us our ‘default setting’ is action. To press the pause button and listen will require us to form new habits.