I love discovering the unique and often bizarre origins of common words. For example, did you know that the word snob was originally used to refer to shoemakers or apprentice shoemakers? Or that goodbye is a shortened form of the old prayer “God be with you”? Or that Jumbo was most likely originally a word for elephant in a west African language? Recently I stumbled across the roots of a common Christian word, and it gave me a renewed admiration for Easter.
Nowadays the word salvation conjures up images of firemen pulling people out of burning buildings or a drowning man being tossed a life vest, but the actual word “salvation” comes from the late Latin salvationem, which can be traced back to mean healthy, safe, or even whole. This isn’t a dramatic shift in our understanding of the word, but I was struck by the fact that every person on the planet wants to feel complete – we all want to feel healthy and safe. Ultimately, we’re all looking for salvation. Even non-Christians want salvation – they just don’t know it sometimes.
Of course, as Christians we have a deeper understanding of salvation; the Bible talks a lot about Jesus’ miraculous work on the cross, which has reunited us with our Creator (John 1:12, John 14:6, Romans 1:16, Ephesians 2:8). Jesus’ sacrifice has made us healthy again. Made us safe. Made us whole. I know Easter was last week, but I thought this was a great reminder for why we praise God, and it made me wonder if the reason my non-Christian friends seek out health and safety is because deep down they feel this need for Christ.