“If we neglect so great salvation” – meaning?

In the old King James Version Hebrews 2:3 uses the word “neglect” in connection with salvation. But how does a person neglect salvation, and how would he know he was neglecting it, too? With a garden it’s easy to know because neglect breeds a weed patch. Neglect your health, home or car and things soon go to pot, rot and ruin. But what obvious symptoms show up when salvation is neglected?

Well, like anything neglected, salvation stops doing what it was made for. Salvation, just like a car or a home, is built to serve our needs as perfectly as possible for as long as possible, and if cared for it works beautifully for us. A car that coughs to a halt and leaves you stranded isn’t doing what it was made for. Neither is a home that goes mouldy or a body that gets weak and sickly. But neither is salvation doing what it was made for if it isn’t enabling us to love God and love neighbour at all times.

Because that’s what salvation was made for. So when I’m driving home after a long day and the traffic is nose to tail and crawling along at snail speed, salvation enables me to not get upset, because salvation was made for all circumstances in which I’m tempted to hate my neighbour. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Paul said in Philippians 4:13, which today would include not coming unglued in traffic.

But that’s what salvation was made for. It was made for survival in the devil’s insane world, where circumstances constantly arise that make us want to spit at people. It struck me, therefore, how silly I am to neglect so great salvation that was made for such a world, because included in that salvation are all the fruits of the Spirit, which far exceed what’s needed to survive in traffic. I also know what symptoms show up when I neglect that salvation too – obvious things like road rage, near misses with pedestrians, heart-thumping emergency stops and risky overtaking manoeuvres, and long, grim trips that make me irritable and short-tempered.

And what stirred these thoughts, ironically, was being stuck at the back of a long line of traffic, weaving its way through the countryside like slugs on holiday, with no opportunities to overtake. It was getting late and I’d had a long, tiring day of work as well as nearly 6 hours driving. I wondered at the time if salvation covered situations like this. And it dawned on me that of course it does. How silly I would be, then, to neglect it.

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