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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Susan Hanson

Tuesday, November 10

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
—Psalm 27:1

For many people, the most important question of faith is not What do you think God is like? or Where do you find God in your life? It’s Are you saved? In other words, can you point to a time when you “accepted Jesus as your savior"? Do you know you’ll be going to heaven when you die?

While it’s natural to think about what happens to us after death, this approach doesn’t give us an accurate picture. Used in this sense, the word “salvation” implies not only something that we do, but also an experience that happens only to us. Scripture and tradition give us a very different view.

In the book of Isaiah, for example, we read that God’s Chosen One will come “to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners.” We find images of light, of abundance, and of peace. Synonymous with health and liberation, this salvation comes not in another world and time, but right here, right now.

“In its broadest sense, salvation . . . means becoming whole and being healed,” Marcus Borg writes in The Heart of Christianity. “The language of ‘wholeness’ suggests movement beyond fragmentation, and the language of ‘healing’ suggests being healed of the wounds of existence.” Ultimately, he argues, “[s]alvation is about life with God, life in the presence of God, now and forever.”

Initiated by God, salvation is an ongoing process in which all of creation participates. It is personal in the sense that each of us experiences this transformation in a unique way, but it is communal as well, touching every facet of our lives. To think of salvation as a “reward” dependent on our activity is, as Borg puts it, to “impoverish” our faith.

Sometimes dramatic, more often experienced as subtle shifts and incremental steps, the continuing work of salvation forms and re-forms us in accordance with the image of God. Like the rest of creation, we are all in process, living in hope and trust until we’re at last complete.

O God, help me to be patient as you lead me toward wholeness—confident in your grace, certain of your wisdom, and sure of your power to save.

These Signposts were originally published on in 2005.