On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 99. Saved I
“…what must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30 RSV)
The 16th chapter of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles relates a story of the Holy Apostle Peter and his partner Silas healing a slave girl from an evil spirit. This healing causes the girl’s owners to lose the opportunity to make money from her. After inciting the crowd, the owners have Paul and Silas put in jail. While securely locked up in an inner cell, Paul and Silas sing hymns to God. Suddenly an earthquake looses their chains and opens the jail doors. The responsible jailer, seeing the opportunity for his prisoners to escape, readies to kill himself. Paul reassures him, “We are all here.”
Trembling before Paul and Silas, the jailer asks, “What must I do to be saved?”
This is a key question for Apostle and Evangelist Luke who writes this story. Back in Luke 10, a similar question to Jesus results in the story of the Good Samaritan. Later in Luke 18, a young ruler asks the same question. “What must I do to be saved?” The answer to the jailer’s question is short and to the point: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” (Acts 16:31 RSV).
For some people, this brief statement to “believe” stands as the endpoint of their life of conversion to Christ. Some can even recite the date and time that they were “saved.” But one must read on the Acts 16 to hear the rest of the story: “And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their wounds, and he was baptized at once, with all his family. Then he brought them up into his house, and set food before them; and he rejoiced with all his household that he had believed in God” (Acts 16:32-34 RSV). St. Paul and St. Silas were too good at being missionaries to leave it for the jailer to just “believe.” They spoke the word of the Lord to the jailer and his family – and they baptized them all! The response of the jailer was to care for Paul and Silas and invite them to his home for a festive meal.
Christian stewards are well past the point of considering from what they are saved. Holy Baptism, Holy Chrismation, Holy Confession, Divine Liturgy, Holy Communion and ongoing study and instruction keep them from all that. Rather, Christian stewards ask a different question, not “What must I do to be saved?” but rather “For what did God save me?” God saves us from eternal separation from Him, to be sure. But He saves us for a purpose: to extend God’s Kingdom on earth, now and end ever and unto ages of ages. Salvation is not a simple, one time event that frees us from responsibility. Salvation is the taking on of a partnership with God.
This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.
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