Frequently people chart the progress of their education, from grade one to doctoral completion by the number of exams successfully completed. The goal for many students is to satisfy one authority after another until, finally, those authorities certify them educated. Though Jesus never held an analogous view of salvation, many Christians have and still do.
One big difference between our situation and Jesus’ is that when we ask for the requirements of salvation, we’re seeking the beliefs and behaviors required for entrance into heaven upon our death. That wasn’t the question Jesus’ spent his life addressing. He was interested in the faith and behaviors that would bring about the realization of God’s promise for all of us here and now.
How are we going to bring about real peace? How can we end the suffering of poverty in our world? How can we bring about universal respect for the dignity of men and women? How can we end violence and the threat of violence? How can we optimize the natural health of our planet? These and many other issues determine the imaginable future that God promises. Our destiny beyond death is part of that future, but not an imaginable part. We must respond first to the future we can imagine. That is the future to which Jesus gave most of his attention.
Being true to our Creator is aligning ourselves with the work he is engaged in for humanity here and now.
When we ask ourselves what is necessary for salvation, we ask ourselves what is necessary to bring God’s promise – God’s justice – to earth. When we study this question, we realize the strengths and qualities we need to develop. When we answer these questions honestly and wisely, we are answering all that we can to place ourselves in harmony with God for eternity.