Note: This series of Holy Week devotions is taken from Dr. Albert Reyes’ upcoming book, The Jesus Agenda: Becoming an Agent of Redemption. All devotionals are posted here.
Wednesday, April 1: Redeemed Relationships
In 1883, a little girl came to live at Buckner Orphans Home in Dallas, Texas, founded by Dr. Robert Cook Buckner. She came with “morals badly impaired and language shocking.” Mrs. S. A. Reese was one of the matrons charged with caring for the orphan girls. The child was dealt with kindly and firmly.
One night when Dr. Buckner had offered prayer and it was now time to send the children to bed, the little girl threw her arms about her matron’s neck, her big brown eyes streaming with tears, and exclaimed, “O Mamma Reese, if I had not come into this home, what would have become of my soul? I would not have known what it was to love Jesus and my soul would have been lost.”
Since the very beginning of the ministry of Buckner, the undercurrent of this social service ministry has been the redemption of lives for God’s purpose. In the context of a loving family environment marked by the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, a little girl in need of a family found a home. But the story does not end there. She also found the love of Jesus and a personal relationship with him and was grafted into the family of faith. Her story and the stories of thousands across the generations dispel what was once traditional thought – that social ministry and evangelism were by nature mutually exclusive.
Like many in my generation, I was raised believing redemption was a one-sided coin; that the message of salvation was essentially a fire insurance policy from hell, even if a person was living in hell on earth. But along the way in my growth as a follower of Jesus, I’ve come to realize the practical impact of the gospel and the gospel message of salvation cannot be separated, like two sides of the same coin.
Or as Dr. Boyd Hunt writes in his book, Redeemed! Eschatological Redemption and the Kingdom of God, “The goal of God’s kingdom mission in Christ is nothing less than to bring all things into subjection to Christ (Col. 1:20). God’s redemptive intent is comprehensive and wholistic.”
Personal faith in Jesus as your redeemer goes far beyond solving the spiritual problem we have with sin. Redemption involves conforming everything about us into the purpose God has for our lives to bless us and those around us according to his plan in redemptive history for us and others around us.
The biblical concept of salvation relates to our need as sinners for a savior. Jesus Christ, the Lord is the savior I am referring to in familiar verses like John 3:16. For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life. That life is in God’s son, Jesus.
It is through his life, work, death, burial, and resurrection that our salvation is secured. We come to faith in Jesus by trusting in him to forgive our sins on the basis of his work and not on anything we have done. We serve him not as a means to win his favor but as an expression for his love and grace toward us. It was at our point of defiance to God that he sent his son to die for us. So, we live in effort to demonstrate our thanks to him for what he has done for us. There is a redeeming aspect in our salvation and yet our salvation is much broader and deeper than redemption.
Redemption speaks to what happens to us at the point of our salvation but also reaches backward to the pain of our lives and forward to show us how the redeemer makes all things new and how that newness connects with what God is doing in human history. We are saved by our savior and redeemed by our redeemer who calls us into action and full-time service for his purposes in redemptive history. And it was made possible through death and resurrection at Easter.
Reflection: What do you think the Lord of Redemption wants to do through your life for his kingdom?
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