Stop Being So Selfless

We are far too selfless when it comes to salvation.

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In high school I would dread being the first to go in soccer drills. I preferred to be towards the back so that I would go when my coach wasn’t paying attention.

Maybe by the time I got to the front of the line a flaming elephant would run across the field enveloped by Wes Nile mosquitos and we would have to call practice short.

Maybe I would throw up.

Anything to get me out of the drill.

I would take small steps forward, my cleats barely rising over the turf, and consider letting other people in front of me. They were better and more competent. Stronger, braver, tougher.

I was too small. Someday I would be able to go first, but for that moment I was content to let others go ahead. I wasn’t ready.

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We are far too selfless when it comes to salvation.

We think we stand in the line for heaven and usher everyone in ahead of us, saying “go ahead” and “you first” with a pleasant smile on our face. In our heads we are thinking we are polite.

We tell ourselves, we say,

“Oh, that person is a really good person. I’ll let them go first.”

“They’ve been going to church more than me; they should go ahead.”

“They seem really smart and enthusiastic so of course they should cut me.”

Stronger, braver, tougher.

We think we are standing in the back of the line, peering at the throne of God in the distance.

We take small steps, our feet barely rising over the ground, hoping that because of our politeness we won’t actually have to make it to the front. That we will throw up or something.

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The issue with this idea, I think, is that salvation isn’t a line. It is not a roller coaster or an Apple store. There are no numbers to be called or times to check-in.

Instead, I think salvation is a table with us and Jesus sitting at it.

We keep looking around, trying to find someone else to distract him from us.

In reality though, it is us who have been distracted from him, not the other way around. There has never been a line to see him, but we tell ourselves there is to buy more time. We fill our plate with accolades and good grades and relationships because we think we are in the back of the line.

But it is just Jesus and us and a table with two place settings.

He sees us. He sees our politeness and hesitation and fear. He sees what we have done, the people we have wronged, and the corners we have cut. He is not ignorant; he is kind.

He sits there and says “my child” and “how are you?” and asks all the questions we wished we were asked but never were. He eagerly looks us in the eye and offers us some bread, breaking it willingly and holding it out to us. He pours us a glass of wine and puts it at our place.

He is not distracted. He is resolved.

He is looking at us in the eyes.

Salvation is close at hand.