Does the Word “Saved” Bother You?
by Tim Stevens
I’ve recently noticed that I’m becoming more annoyed by the word “saved” than ever before. Not in the “I saved money” use of the word, but in the Christian-ese context: “Is Johnny saved?” or “It’s only a matter of time until Martha gets saved.”
It’s not that I don’t understand the context: Yes, I realize we sometimes need words to describe life after meeting Jesus. And of course, I agree with its premise that there is something that is different about a person after they cross the line of the faith. It’s just the actual word that annoys me.
I’m trying to figure out what bothers me. I think it’s a combination of the following…
It seems like a term that makes sense to insiders, but to the person who is educated and didn’t grow up in church, it sounds like incorrect grammar. “Bob got saved.” You wouldn’t say of someone who was just rescued from drowning, “They got saved.”
It seems like a once-and-for-all, passive event that happens to someone. Like they did nothing at all. And once they get it, they are good forever. I realize both of those things are true at their core. Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. But it requires me to accept the gift and give my life to Him. It’s not something you do once (like becoming a citizen of a country)–it is the beginning of a journey where you are giving your life to Him again every day.
I realize it is a foundational word in the Christian faith, taken largely from Romans 10:13: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But that verse seems to focus on how Jesus responds when we ask–not on our state of being after He responds. Don’t we change the meaning of the word by saying, “I got saved last week at church”?
It seems like it focuses only on the rescue from Hell. Maybe I’m filtering this a bit through my own baggage and training on salvation (being primarily an escape plan from the pit of Hell), but giving your life to Jesus is so much more than that. A life with Jesus is about changing the here and now. It’s about working every day to see the Kingdom of God established here on Earth…today. It’s not about biding my time until I get to be with Jesus after I die.
I’m probably opening a can of worms, but am I the only one who wishes this word was removed from our church vocabulary?