That dress was all over social media last week. You know that one. Some said it was blue and black, while others said white and gold. It made appearances on TV news. Reporters stood in the street asking passers-by what colour the dress was. And thanks to SBS I learnt that this was not limited to the English speaking world.
There were explanations given but what I’m interested in is whether the phenomenon with this dress can help us to better understand our faith. It was very interesting to see a reporter hold up the black and blue dress, then change the background and lighting and the dress then became white and gold. This makes me suspect that the difference was a matter of perspective. I believe that understanding perspective can enrich the way we understand our experience of salvation.
One of the most fiercely debated doctrines in Christianity is that of election. The doctrine of election, in the simplest terms, seeks to understand why God has chosen those he will show favour. The primary New Testament use of the word concerns salvation, and is expressed in terms such as predestined, called, chosen or foreknown. The really hot debate concerns predestination and foreknowledge. The most common positions are that of Calvinism and Arminianism. It is not these theological positions that I want to address here but rather the nature of how we experience coming to faith.
I believe that the way we experience coming to faith in Christ is in terms of choice. We have altar calls. We invite people to journey with God. We expect people to choose to respond to God. Whatever our theological position may be, we experience faith by choosing God. When Jesus speaks of the narrow gate (Matt. 7:13-14) it seems like he is saying that those who find the gate need to choose to enter through it. The notion of choice is the way we understand the commitment we have made to follow Jesus.
This is only half the story. As our walk with God grows and matures we may find ourselves considering how we first came to know salvation. As I have been surrounded by the Biblical story and the words of the Apostles, such as adopted, there has grown within me a deeper understanding that it was God who called me into a life with him.
How can these two experiences be simultaneously true? The only explanation that I can offer is perspective. This morning I walked into a shop. On the door was a sign that said ‘entry’. As I left I walked out the same door but this time it was labelled ‘exit’. Was the door an entry or an exit? The truth is it is both. It just depends which side of the door you are on. The experience of salvation as both choice and calling is dependent on which side of the door I’m looking at. It is the same door but is labelled differently. Our experience tells us that we enter into the Christian life by choosing to be a follower of Jesus but as we look back we see that we also entered into that same life because he chose us.
Oh, and for the record, I thought the dress was brown and grey.