Updated: Jan 14, 2021
We all are born to love stories. Kids read tales of dragons and knights. They play cops and robbers. As teenagers we dream of changing the world. We want to be someone with a great story; someone worth writing about.
In the Bible, we believe in a particular kind of story.
There is a creation, man falls into sin, we try to get back but ultimately fail, then Jesus comes to be our salvific sacrifice that finally leads us to to transfiguration, both here on earth and in the New Jerusalem. That's the Christian take to the story of humankind throughout history, but also throughout our own lives. Most Christians go through some kind of creation-fall-attempt-salvation-transfiguration in their life.
They are born (creation). Then they mess up (fall). They throw temper tantrums, they curse, or they do some other not so nice thing. After that, most people try to find their way through life on their own strength, either for a season or for a few decades (attempt). But eventually, they find Jesus Christ and submit to his leadership and his love (salvation). With God at the center of their life, they begin to remake their day-to-day entire being into something that reflects their "new creation" (transfiguration).
That's the Christian take, but like I said, everyone loves stories.
There is a non-Christian take. John Mark Comer of Bridgetown Church in Portland coined the term "Secular Salvation" as a way to describe the experience of people who don't have any faith orientation.
They are born into the world as innocent children (creation). Most people believe they are inherently good and that it is the world that oppresses, changes, and makes them bad.
This is "the fall". Parents encourage a specific kind of sexuality. A political party forces an ideology. The influence of the world oppresses us and changes us into something less than.
The rest of our lives are spent trying to get back to that innocent baby we were before the world's oppression changed us. Our attempts include yoga, meditation, "throwing off the chains" of whatever ideology you feel is oppressive, and self-seeking. It's all about finding who we truly are.
However, we can never truly throw off all the things that have influenced us. Our parents will always shape our views, culture will always have something to say about our sexuality, and we cannot get rid of these things by our own strength.
So our search for "salvation" becomes a hopeless wandering through the desert. There is no secular salvation, so we settle for secular pacification. The statistics show that their is a drastic increase in drug use in the past decade, including Schedule II drugs like opioids and other inhibitors. If we can't reach the "ultimate" or have salvation, then humans have a habit of drowning their desire for more in drugs, alcohol, or other substances.
This causes us to have a "transfiguration," but unlike the biblical new body in a new heaven and new earth, we transform to a shell of former self. For the person on the journey towards secular salvation, they will never have that fulfillment of our innate desire for "something more."
It's here that we can lose hope and that's the most dangerous thing of all.
Without hope of something more, we can turn nihilistic and pessimistic about a wonderfully, beautiful life. We were designed for a biblical story that brings us ultimate fulfillment and joy in Christ, but without Jesus at the center of our story, we settle for pacification. We settle for a life that was designed for so much more.