Are we awaiting a future salvation?

Growing up in a Jewish family, I was taught that Jesus was a good man and an inspirational teacher, but not the Messiah. It was expected that, among other things, the Messiah would usher in the Messianic age, bringing an end to all war, disease, death, poverty, etc. Yet our lives teach us that transformation of even a modest flaw in our character takes devotion of thought and a commitment to spiritual growth. It seems logical, then, that rather than being able to make the changes for each of us, let alone all of us, the promised Messiah would make plain the means by which we can increasingly win our salvation, individually and—ultimately—collectively. As the Apostle Paul said, we are to “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

So I was glad to learn of the teachings of Christian Science, which explain the Messiah’s role as our Way-shower. These teachings share the Jewish expectancy that all worldly evil will be vanquished as a result of the Messiah. But this redemption is seen as coming about through humanity yielding, individual by individual, to the deeper, divine reality of being, which would be proved by the Messiah, or Christ. (These two terms, Christ and Messiah, describe the same idea. The Jewish Messiah, or Anointed One, became known more widely through the Greek term Christ as this God-bestowed salvation began to be understood as universal in scope.)

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