A thoughtful woman came into my office some time ago with a question. An honest searcher after truth, she was attracted to many aspects of religion, but she struggled with her strong commitment “to be honest – with herself and with God. She had seen enough of sham religion, and the hypocrisy of those whose words did not resemble their actions. Yet she could not ignore the inner hunger she had felt for some time, and that is why she came to my study.

What she wanted to know was, what is “being saved” all about? She found the language in the Bible, but so often all the talk she heard about being saved sounded like a personal insurance policy for life after death. Is that all there is to faith? Something within her doubted that faith was nothing more than a way to get to heaven. If that is all it is, she reasoned, then isn’t faith a rather selfish enterprise?

I believe that my visitor was, in many ways, close to the Kingdom of God. That is, her honesty was evidence of faith itself. Countless times, honest searchers after God have sat in my study literally weeping because they wished they had faith. My response, every time, has been that if they didn’t have faith, they would not be sitting in a minister’s study crying about it! The very desire to have faith, the desire to be connected to God, is already evidence that God is working in their lives. A hungry heart already shows evidence of finding the spiritual food that satisfies.

The fact is that both the Hebrew and the Christian scriptures speak of salvation as a particular kind of wholeness that brings all of the disparate parts of life into a meaningful whole. The word “religion” comes from roots that mean “to tie together,” and faith in God ties life together into a meaningful whole.

My friend was right in her suspicion that “being saved” meant more than a personal insurance policy. The bible illustrates, over and over again, that people who have found their own spiritual hunger satisfied become free to enter the lives of others. People who are genuinely connected to God become compassionate. Being saved means being rescued from the dark pit of self-concern, and being liberated to live a life of care and love for others.

Personally, I experience that gift as a daily process, and unfinished work. My religion tells me that I was saved once and for all, but discovering the full meaning of that is a lifetime challenge and source of joy.

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