"It's about finding these two broken pieces in life...and putting them back together again."

I was driving my son to his basketball practice and I was trying to describe sin and salvation to him. My explanation went sort of like this:

"Son, sin isn't just about having a guilty conscience, feeling shame for doing bad things. Sin is about how the whole world seems broken, shattered into a million tiny pieces. And all those pieces fight against each other. Us against Them when we fight or kill. Humanity against Creation when we litter, pollute or make animals go extinct. Creation against Men and Women like we saw in Haiti. Us against God and God against us. And, finally, a man against himself...that guilty conscience and feeling that you are a bad person or a failure.

And if that is what sin is, all these sharp broken pieces cutting each other, then salvation is trying to put those pieces back together again. When you pick up your litter. That is salvation. When you befriend a lonely kid at school. That is salvation. When you praise God rather than curse him. That is salvation. When you forgive people, yourself included. That is salvation.

Salvation isn't just about 'going to heaven.' It's about finding these two broken pieces in life, wherever you find them, and putting them back together again. That is salvation."

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25 thoughts on “"It's about finding these two broken pieces in life...and putting them back together again."”

  1. It never ceases to amaze me how people continue to try to create a perfect world, whether that is Marxist materialism or Platonic idealism. All of us seek to understand the world within our different frames, and that is as it should be, because it allows for diversity of viewpoint, without moralizing platitudes of what is "THE" way to see things. Liberty demands that we do not impose our ideology on others, who might think, see or choose different ways of being and acting in the world. And the laws of a free society should reflect that viewpoint in limiting government and leadership.

  2. Angie,
    I'm not talking about ideological homogeneity. I'm talking about being kind and thoughtful. Heaven forbid the world gets overrun by THOSE kinds of people or agendas.

    You need to stop putting square pegs in round holes. Seriously. Back up and think.

  3. Pecs,
    Not all the pieces can be put together by us. We don't hold all the strings. For those facets of brokenness a Christian lives in hope. (Or, what a non-believer might call "a delusional amount of wishful thinking.")

  4. The first step in acknowledging 'sin' is the 'sharp' realization of brokenness. Most never come to a place where they know or admit to being mere pieces of a puzzle. It is in that realization that the absurdity of being able to repair the broken puzzle by myself must come home. When that happens then people turn to God for salvatioon.

  5. @ Angie

    You say, "Liberty demands that we do not impose our ideology on others, who might think, see or choose different ways of being and acting in the world". However, by continuing to come here and post completly off-topic comments, comments that usually have a tone of condescension (i.e "wishful thinking"), aren't you doing exactly what you accuse Richard/Christians of?

    Richard is not trying to convince anyone of anything. He has graciously created a wonderful place of discussion based on his work and life. Sure, he expressed his views but by no means is he trying to "create a perfect world" or use "moralizing platitudes" to convince people of "THE way to see things".

    I don't think there is anyone here who minds that you don't share the same beliefs as Richard. I, for one, appreciate the fact that we all don't agree; it gives me a better perspective on the subject. However, I do mind grand-standing and ax grinding because that is where dialogue usually stops.

  6. I'm not sure what possible justification there could be for disagreeing with this post, Angie. The Isaianic vision of the lion and the lamb is among the most potent metaphors imaginable for precisely what the Professor is explaining to his son. Would that my sons would catch that vision as well before I no longer have any direct influence on them. qb

  7. It's very difficult for me to digest your otherwise excellent points when you use such inherently sexist language to describe humanity.

    I know, I know- you really do think of it as gender neutral, but in the midst of trying to understand what you're getting at, all I can hear is "yada yada MAN MAN MAN yada yada MAN."

    It's 2010. Maybe, in the spirit of repairing some of this world's brokenness, you could think about what you teach your son when you talk as if maleness is the same as neutral.

  8. come on guys angi has a broken and bitter hart for a reason.
    would you like to share that with us angie.
    your here for an underlieing reason.
    fess up angi or then maybe your bitterness i such a convaluted mess that only the good doctor can help...
    anyway you know ya gota do something ...
    or you wouldn't be here.
    bet you lost almost every thing that you have loved aor cared about
    fish or cut bait
    shit or get off the pot
    ya know

    rich constant

  9. Adam,
    I understand your concern. I disagree, but won't get into a defense of my use of language, just a note to say that I see exactly what you are talking about and, as I wrote the post, knew those kinds of complaints could be raised. That is, despite a difference of opinion on this, I'm not wholly lacking in self-awareness.

  10. I read this blog post today and the last line made me think of your theory of salvation.

    http://toddbouldin.wordpress.com/2010/02/11/a-nashvillian-reacts-to-defacing-of-muslim-mosque/#more-2173
    Thx again, Dr. Beck.
    -Deb

  11. No need to get into a defense of sexist language. Believe me, I have heard every possible variation on why it's okay to verbally exclude half of humanity: It's poetic (rhymes better), it's traditional (bad reason for anything), people know what it means (not as much as you'd think), the singular characterization of humanity is important to my theological point (really? and this is the best way to express that?)...

    One of my friends you also knows you personally described you as "one of the least sexist people I know." That might be true, theoretically, but use of language is one of those places where the rubber meets the road.

    And even if no one can convince you that the language is intrinsically indefensible in almost any context, you might want to think about the extrinsic problem: people who are too offended/hurt/saddened/not-enlightened-to-understand-your-excellent-defense-of-male-specific-language by the way you talk/write and miss whatever point you were trying to make. People who get offended by that sort of thing are part of the "all people" that Paul calls us to be "all things" to. (Unless you really think "all men" is a more appropriate translation, in which case- carry on.)

  12. Adam,
    I think those are fair points to make. And important locations for self-reflection on my part. I'm not beyond self-improvement in these matters. I think it entirely too easy for person to assume they aren't sexist (and I don't assume that about myself) when they should assume they have been compromised in ways that they don't realize.

  13. General Note:
    I've edited the original post in an attempt to explore gender-neutral language. This will make Adam's comments seem to be out of place to any late-comers to this post. Adam's concern about the original post was my use of "Man" in various instances to represent "Humanity."

  14. "Salvation isn't just about 'going to heaven.' It's about finding these two broken pieces in life, wherever you find them, and putting them back together again. That is salvation."

    Beautifully said, Richard. It's what I'm also trying to teach to my boys, which is very much against the grain of what I grew up being taught (that salvation was purely after-death hell avoidance theology that has nothing to do with living in real life). It's so hard to deal with family who still buys that theology, and can't see either damage they do or have done, or the need to own up and participate in bringing healing to it.

  15. Wow! Thanks.
    I've been ranting/debating/pleading/conversing about this issue in every way I can think of (from respectful engagement to insulting diatribe) with anyone I can for awhile now.
    You're only the second one to actively change behavior (and the first was my best friend). That says a lot more about your depth of thought than it does about my persuasive abilities.

    Anyway- thanks again. That meant a lot to me.

  16. For a Christian Agnostic, THIS is THE BEST explanation of sin and salvation i have EVER heard. THANK YOU SO MUCH. I'm gonna borrow this post for my blog and will link back to you!

  17. regardless to what anyone else has said I really, really loved what you wrote here. I felt it resonated with me. I say write whatever comes out of your heart. Those who are intent on misunderstanding will do so but you have been a blessing to me on this day. Thank you:)
    Jen

  18. Richard, I love this idea - and I can picture your son's face as you were telling him this. And I think you and your entire family are, in this very real sense, salvation-bringers.

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