Christianity is a Skyscraper.
When Jesus said to Peter, “on this rock I will build my church,”1 He probably wasn’t referring to 30 Rock in New York, New York. But I digress. Regardless, 30 Rock has had a great deal of cultural significance throughout New York City and the world. The 84-year-old skyscraper hosts NBC studios, Saturday Night Live, and the never-ending carousel of Late Night talk show hosts. Although millions of Americans who get their news, information, or entertainment from this one source located in nearby Manhattan may be unaware of 30 Rock’s existence, it plays such a vital role that it is hard to say you have experienced New York City without going to the Top of the Rock.
Located on 50th St. and 6th Ave, the Top of the Rock offers unobstructed 360-degree views of New York City directly from the heart of the Manhattan. While one ticket might cost you a less-than-ideal $34, the views and experience are enough to merit your next Instagram post. Due to its popularity, The Top of the Rock supplements the long wait for the elevators by including a small photo shoot, numerous historical facts and a 9-minute informative video on the significance and history behind 30 Rock. The photo shoot, historical facts, and video set the stage for the subsequent 70-story flight up more enjoyable. The excitement of seeing all of Manhattan is palpable before you ever reach the Top of the Rock.
Last spring, when I went to the Top of the Rock and stood in line waiting for the elevator, the fascinating tidbits of information provided gave insight to the building that I would not have known on my own, giving a sense of meaning to the whole trip. The essence of what I learned was that a huge amount of effort, sacrifice, faith, and vision helped give 30 Rock the immense legacy and value it has today.
Christianity works the same way. The more we learn about the effort, sacrifice, faith, and vision God has for humanity, the more value and fulfillment we have today.
As Christians, we don’t want to walk through life with a surface-level sense of what God has done for us. The author of Proverbs writes, “Whatever you get, get insight.”2 He shows the pivotal importance of getting insight because, when we have the proper insight, we can live a more purposeful and satisfactory Christian life.
That Jesus saved us from our sins is the most important piece of our history to understand. As I grow to understand it more each day, the word “saved” itself has brought me more satisfaction and purpose in my Christian beliefs. Talking about salvation can be like opening a can of worms in the Christian community, and I don’t mean to meander into hermeneutics, but something changed once I learned about the Greek word sozo. The topic of salvation naturally brings up an array of questions like, “Who has it?” or “Can you lose it?” And it is not my desire to address any of these questions. My point is to show that when Paul uses the word “saved”, such as when, for example, in Ephesians 2:8, he writes, “For by grace you have been saved, through faith,” he probably means something different from what most Christians and myself may think. The word “saved” in English is translated from the original Greek word sozo. Sozo means, “to save, deliver, protect, heal, preserve, do well, and be made whole.”
When I used to think of being “saved,” I would have the idea that it meant when the trumpet blows, I’ll be on the first Greyhound Bus to Heaven and will walk through the Heavenly Gates with no problem because my name has been written in the book of life.3 However, the Greek word sozo contradicted this notion that being saved was all about arriving in Heaven. Now, of course, I am excited for eternal life, and I am thankful that God paid such a huge price by sending Jesus to redeem humanity, but the modern conception of being saved which I thought meant eventually going to Heaven one day once you die is not what Paul was trying to convey when he uses the word “saved” in Ephesians4 or “that you profess your faith and are saved” in Romans.5
It is more than just being rescued from a burning building: sozo means “deliver, protect, heal, preserve, do well, and be made whole,” all of which are attainable right now for Christians!
Once I came to the understanding that Jesus did more than just secure my eternal security but delivered, healed, preserved, and made me whole, the quality, satisfaction and purpose of my life radically changed. I wasn’t waiting for the day I keeled over and Jesus came back to find purpose, meaning, or satisfaction in my Christian life. I was already a man who was made whole! Paul did say,“if anyone is in Christ they are a new creation,” and once the real meaning of the word “saved” came into my vocabulary I realized that Jesus made me a new creation through faith.6 Suddenly, Jesus commanding us in the Lord’s Prayer to pray, “your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven” made more sense because sozo is something that is attainable now. Once I realized I had already been made whole, delivered, healed, preserved and saved, it has become easier to tackle the challenges of the Christian life.
The lobby before the elevators up the 70 floors of 30 Rock in New York provided facts and minute details that enriched my satisfaction and understanding of 30 Rock as a historic building. Learning the word sozo changed my satisfaction and understanding of what it means to be a Christian and gave me new depth and purpose.
Cal Falkenhayn’s (CC ’19) favorite day of the school year is definitely Surf ‘n’ Turf . Other than being a huge LeBron fan, he’s usually occupied playing football for the Columbia Lions.
1 Matthew 16:18 ESV
2 Proverbs 4:7 ESV
3 Revelation 21:27 ESV
4 Ephesians: 2:8 ESV
5 Romans: 10:10 ESV
6 Corinthians 5:17 ESV