“The goal of salvation is not to get us into heaven. Properly understood, heaven is not a goal at all, but a destination . . . . Heaven is only a glorious byproduct of something far more central. Salvation is a life, and when we have this [life] physical death becomes merely a minor transition from this life to a greater life . . . .The real issue is not so much us getting into heaven as it is getting heaven into us. . . . The daring goal of the Christian life is an ever-deeper re-formation of our inner personality so that it reflects more and more the glory and goodness of God . . . . You see, this life that comes from God and is the salvation that is in Jesus Christ, is a character-transforming life” (Richard Foster in the Renovare Weekly for August 13 – first presented at a 1999 Renovaré International Conference in Houston).
I began reading the article containing these quotes from the Renovare Weekly while trying to work my way out of a purple funk. My cable network was down and every attempt I had made for more than hour had been fruitless until the help desk agreed to set up an appointment for a tech to come on Wednesday from 9-10. This was on Saturday. I was upset because of the loss of cable TV for several days (while the bill keeps on accumulating). But I was just as upset because dealing with cable companies is not my job; it is supposed to be my husband Fred’s job, and sadly, he is no longer here!
But as I read, I was captured in a time warp. I was being profoundly affected by the words of the man who stood about two feet away from me in a lecture room at Spring Arbor University who was calmly sharing these same ideas and concepts that changed everything about my life forever. My spirit, my heart, my brain, even my career were never the same. And strangely as I read through the whole essay, Salvation as a Life, I totally forgot about the irritating cable problem!
Some of these phrases may now sound like clichés: “Heaven is not a goal but a destination.” “The real issue is not so much us getting into heaven as it is heaven getting into us.” “The life that comes from God is a character-transforming life.” But for someone like me who had been in and out of churches for decades because all they talked about was “sinners being saved” and “finding eternal life” and never as seriously dwelling on the life of the Jesus who had grabbed my heart, these words like this filled my soul and had me searching for more from Richard Foster (and his comrades Dallas Willard and James Bryan Smith and Bill Vaswig and others).
Many years after slowly and daily learning how to “re-form myself” and attempting to “live my life as if [Jesus] were I,” I can say “Thanks again” for the “cable lesson” – Appreciate what you have instead of complaining about what you don’t have!
For a beautiful story about the kind of transformation Foster describes in this post, check out Sharing the Hope that is within You, a story about Jim’s new life.