“Wow! That is so cool!” That was my first text. Then, “Praise be the name of the Lord. That is awesome.” So let me explain.
I recently reported that we have a college ministry – because someone in one of our discipleship huddles teaches at a nearby community college. God seems to be opening doors there. That person sent me a text that said, “Shared the ‘shalom’ adapted for school with my Provost on Wednesday. Pretty cool.”
You may be wondering what sharing shalom means. We talk about shalom quite a bit in discipleship. Shalom is how things are meant to be. It is how things were in the beginning, and how things will be. In Genesis 1 and 2, we learn that God created the world and creation was good. The last thing God created were human beings. He created us so that we would have fruitful, productive lives, enjoying fellowship with one another and with himself. Everything was right. There was no shame, no corruption, no sin. There was peace. There was shalom. God, people, and creation were in a right relationship with one another. Nature was gentle, fruitful and productive. Work was satisfying.
One way of understanding the effects of sin in the world is to think about the disruption of shalom. It is our reality today. Relationships between people are disrupted: people struggle to get along, to sustain their relationships. People are lonely and often isolated, fearful of others. Our relationship with creation has become a mess, too. I’m not just talking about air pollution. We usually interact with creation through work, and for many people work is unsatisfying, empty, or even abusive. For many, hard work doesn’t provide what is needed for a dignified life. Our relationship with ourselves also becomes disrupted. We are to love others AS WE LOVE OURSELVES. Yet many people live “quiet lives of desperation” in shame, guilt, and fear. The various abuses that make the news are evidence of the large scale, systematic disruption of shalom. That people abuse, and are abused, by one another, nature, and themselves is all evidence of the sin that has disrupted shalom. This is not how things are supposed to be. Leading it all was a disruption of the relationship between us and the God who created us.
But God is at work reversing the curse! One way of thinking about the work of God’s Kingdom is to understand that Jesus is at work restoring shalom. Creation groans waiting for the day when Jesus will make all things new (Romans 8:19-22, Revelation 21:5). Shalom in all its dimensions is being restored and will be restored. It’s good news!
And Jesus has invited us into that work. And that is astonishing news! We get to be a part of what God is doing.
So, as I was saying, I texted back: “Wow! That is so cool! What was the reaction?”
“Very very receptive. Frankly – glory to God here – I think his mind was blown. I couched it in terms of reducing poverty. Poverty of self. Poverty of community. Poverty of resources. And added that while we are not a religious institution, if we did these things, people would be better equipped to address their poverty of Spirit.”
“Praise be the name of the Lord! That is awesome!”
And, brothers and sisters in Christ, when we talk about equipping people for discipleship, this is what it looks like! We get to participate more fully in God’s work of making all things new.
Praise be to the name of the Lord!