“For my eyes have seen your salvation.” (Luke 2:30)

I have seriously underestimated the audacity of God.

Okay. I gave him full points for the something-out-of-nothing gig. The sheer moxie of Let there be boggles the mind. No primordial soup stock needed to whip up this cosmic enchilada; it was void to volume in one breezy step. A little ex nihilo with extra sauce, please.

And I have to admit that the walking on water thing wins Jesus a top slot on the FX A-list. That’s not even to mention his flair for storm-stilling, large-group catering on a budget, and his nifty knack for fixing dead people. Jesus most definitely could bling when he wanted to.

Then there are the nearly endless extravagances of nature itself. Astronomers estimate that the universe has about 70 sextillion stars (7 followed by 22 zeros). That’s about 10 times as many stars as grains of sand on ALL the world’s beaches and deserts. Talk about your big and lots. Flip the lens and the divine prodigality shows up in the nano-world too, a world so profuse and strange that scientists end up using words like “charm” and “strange” to describe it. There are more hypothetical particles than confirmed ones, including theoretical hopefuls like the slepton, the squark, the gluino, and—my personal favorite—the wino (which probably comes in a brown paper bag). Even in our middle world the profusion of God’s reckless creativity is everywhere. Heck, the existence of coffee beans alone is enough to make me a theist.

But as gonzo over-the-top as all these things are, nothing—and I mean nothing—stacks up against the most preposterous, most outrageous, most ridiculously riotous display of excess ever devised by men or gods. That thing, my friends, is salvation.

Now, as a good little evangelical boy steeped in the Western intellectual tradition, I have always envisioned salvation as a kind of point-to-point protocol: you believe the Gospel and God downloads a surgical shot of redemption onto your personal heart drive. Like a photon, the light of Christ is fired into you as a discreet, self-contained packet, all neat and tidy. No strays. No spillage—salvation as spiritual IV ministering carefully calibrated drops of living water to your thirsty soul.

Boy, I was wrong.

When Jesus kicked the bucket he also kicked open the cosmic floodgates. Forget your faucet of forgiveness. Rethink your rivulet of redemption. Jesus blasted the whole bloody dam, releasing a tsunami of infinite spiritual force and magnitude that engulfs everything in heaven and earth. The salvation of Christ swamps saint and sinner alike; it overwhelms every human institution, every human achievement, every human aspiration. A redemptive torrent, salvation drowns all evil and all good too. It breaks over angels and rushes over demons. The salvation of God roars through fortified palaces and courses through shanty towns. It swallows up tyrants and traders, heroes and hermits, gangsters and galaxies. Nothing can resist it—neither wickedness nor pride nor ignorance nor unbelief. There is no ark to escape the boundless tide. The salvation of Jesus Christ floods all of creation and all of time.

And everything it touches—which is everything—is transformed, is reconciled, is glorified. Salvation knows no exceptions. Even the vilest, most unrepentant evil succumbs and testifies to the power of God. The ugly becomes beautiful; the broken is made whole. Death dies. Ultimately, the universe itself will fail to hold so great a salvation. The old earth will buckle and the primordial heavens crack open as the entire created order breaks free from its ancient bondage and rushes with astonished relief into memory. Then salvation will fashion a new heavens and a new earth in its own image. And we, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, we shall finally be home.

Hosanna, my friends. Hosanna, indeed.

.   .   .



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