“Your soul doesn’t need saving;
it needs to be made visible.”
– Emma Curtis Hopkins
Travis and I had a particularly enjoyable visit with my in-laws last week. They’re lovely people, fun and kind, and we are always interested in catching up on every detail of each other’s lives. We talk a lot and with great enthusiasm whenever we get together, covering our topics from every angle and with deep consideration.
My in-laws are quite active in their church, and obviously we are in ours, so we usually spend a fair amount of time chatting about the organizational dynamics of spiritual community. We have that interest in common — how committees and sub-groups work together, administrative concerns, budgetary priorities, outreach, etc…
HOWEVER — I try hard to not get sucked into conversations about actual theology.
My step-father-in-law is a by-the-book Baptist. And we’re… not. He thinks that Travis and I would be wildly successful as leaders in the Baptist church. And we… don’t. When I find our talk more than skimming along the surface of matters of faith, I get a little anxious, because I really really really don’t want to debate beliefs with them.
On this latest trip, we didn’t manage to skirt that conversation entirely. [Truthfully, Travis fielded it mostly; after an hour or so, I pled exhaustion and went to bed.] Before I retired, though, I understood maybe for the first time that the main thing about which my father-in-law wanted to reassure himself was that we, people he loves, weren’t going to go to hell.
I realized that this talk wasn’t so much about evangelical conversion — he wasn’t trying to convince us of the rightness of his beliefs. It was his desire to understand our beliefs, to be able to translate them into his own scriptural terminology, because he genuinely was concerned about our salvation. He loves us and cares for us and wants us to be okay.
I don’t know if we explained our ideas well enough to ease his mind. [Again, Travis did a better job than I did, for sure.] What we tried to convey was:
- We believe that everyone is already “saved.” All of us are, and have always been, whole, complete, and perfect in the loving heart of the Infinite.
- None of us has to worry about punishment or reward after this life — we’re working out heaven and hell here and now, and we’ll continue to do so throughout these lifetimes. Afterwards, who knows, exactly? I suspect that it’s more life, more working it out, but probably at a groovier vibration.
- As far as we’re concerned, nobody needs to believe any particular article of faith in order to be fully engaged in the life of our spiritual community. You need not agree with us to play with us — everyone is welcome.
In a nutshell, my beliefs about heaven and salvation, having a wholeheartedly loving relationship with God, all boil down to: YOU’RE GOOD. I’M GOOD. WE’RE ALL GOOD.
Starting with that makes it so much easier to practice loving ourselves, each other, and everything. I can’t wait to be with you this Sunday, August 25, service at 10:00 am.
© 2019 Drew Groves