N.T Wright: Saved Not Merely As Souls, But As Wholes
As genuine human beings, from Genesis 1 onward, we are given the mandate of looking after creation, of bringing order to God’s world, of establishing and maintaining communities. To suppose that we are saved, as it were, for our own private benefit, for the restoration of our own relationship with God (vital though that is!), and for our eventual homecoming and peace in heaven (misleading though that is!) is like a boy being given a baseball bat as a present and insisting that since it belongs to him, he must always and only play with it in private. But of course you can only do what you’re meant to do with a baseball bat when you’re playing with other people.
Salvation only does what it’s meant to do when those who have been saved, are being saved, and will one day fully be saved realize that they are saved not as souls but as wholes and not for themselves alone but for what God now longs to do through them..
The point is this. When God saves people in this life, by working through his Spirit to bring them to faith Jesus in discipleship, prayer, holiness, hope, and love, such people are designed – it isn’t too strong a word – to be a sign and foretaste of what God wants to do for the entire cosmos. What’s more, such people are not just to be a sign and foretaste of that ultimate salvation; they are to be part of the means by which God makes this happen in both the present and the future…
In other words – to sum up where we’ve got so far – the work of salvation, in its full sense, is (1) about whole human beings, not merely souls; (2) about the present, not simply the future; and (3) about what God does through us, not merely what God does in and for us. If we can get this straight, we will leave discovered that historic basis for the full-orbed mission of the church.
-N.T. Wright, Surprised By Hope, 199-201.