First Peter 2:2-10: Salvation Is A Process Rather Than An Event

The key as symbol of St. Peter

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[Reflections on the Lectionary Reading for May 22, 2011]

Peter says that by spiritual milk we “grow into salvation” (1 Pet 2:2, NRSV). Christians call this growth “sanctification.” Sanctification is part of the process of salvation.

When they think about salvation, some Christians like to focus only on the thrilling moment of new birth. Peter sees it as a process rather than an event. If salvation is an event, then once it is complete, there is little requirement to grow.

Jesus said, “the one who believes in me will also do the work that I do, and in fact, will do greater works than these” (John 14:12, NRSV) Jesus did not see salvation as something that ends in an event of surrender.  That is just the beginning. Belief in Jesus draws one into a life of action that mirrors Jesus’ ministry.

Many Christians have the salvation experience of being born again, but then they become paralyzed as they continue to adore and revere that single moment. Do we not know that we are here to continue Jesus’ ministry? Do we not understand that our lives are to be so changed that we become charismatic beacons of love and truth in a world filled with hatred and lies?

A focus on the new birth can also lead us into believing that our entire task on earth is to save as many people as possible from sin. We take pride in the number of notches that we can carve on our holster of holiness. Yet it is only the Holy Spirit who has the power to save.  We have the power to live our lives in a way that serves as a testimony to the loving grace of our Lord.

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