Where is salvation – liberation from any form of slavery or oppression in our lives, whether imposed or self-imposed – to be found? And where is redemption – wherever, contrary to the natural order, good is the supernatural fruit of evil – to be found?
The answer isn’t Jesus.
‘Jesus’ is the answer to the question ‘In whom are salvation and redemption to be found?’ or, ‘From whom does all salvation and redemption come?’
‘Where is salvation, or redemption, to be found?’ is a different kind of question; a question that could be reframed, ‘Where can Jesus be met?’
For Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), salvation is found in a sycamore-fig tree; redemption (the fruit, in his case, being giving half his possessions to the poor, and paying back four-fold anyone whom he had cheated) found in offering Jesus hospitality in his home.
Jo and I have been watching Goldie’s Band: By Royal Appointment. This three-part documentary followed musician Goldie’s quest to find talented young musicians who have overcome disadvantage, bring them together to form a band, compose music and, ultimately, to perform their songs at a one-off concert at Buckingham Palace [check out this track, heaviosity]. The young adults involved come from a range of backgrounds including experience of geographic or cultural isolation, abuse, abandonment, criminal involvement, and physical- or mental-health issues. Sadly, they are in no way exceptional in what they have experienced. Where they are exceptional – and inspirational – is in how they have responded to those circumstances.
In each case, these young adults have found an ongoing measure of salvation and redemption in composing and performing music.
Whether or not they recognise that the salvation and redemption they experience comes, ultimately, from Jesus.
It is important that we should recognise this. It is too easy for those of us who believe that salvation and redemption come from Jesus to fall into the trap of believing that, therefore, salvation and redemption are to be found in the church. And such a belief will successfully contain the gospel – the good news – about Jesus within our walls. Instead, we need to imaginatively engage in the task of seeing salvation and redemption wherever Jesus is at work, in order that we might point him out to those who are experiencing his mission.