The World Awaits Shalom Spreaders
March 1, 2012
The opening words of the Bible are breathtaking in their scope: In the beginning God. I love what Eugene Peterson says regarding this beginning: “First, God. God is the subject of life. God is foundational for living. If we don’t have a sense of the primacy of God we will never get it right, get life right, get our lives right. Not God at the margins; not God as an option; not God on the weekends. God at center and circumference; God first and last; God, God, God.”
In the beginning God creates and God’s Spirit hovers over the waters of the formless and void earth. For much of the rest of the opening chapte,r God is forming and filling the earth that was formerly formless and void. Then God creates humanity in the image of God, and gives humanity work: to subdue and fill the earth. A Hebrew way of thinking of this would be to say that humanity was commissioned to spread shalom. One way to think of shalom would be to think of life as God intends, ordered and full.
Tragically though instead of spreading shalom we find humanity shattering shalom in the next chapters. The shattering begins in chapter three and crescendos from there into a cacophony of chaos (Adam and Eve eat the fruit; Cain kills Abel; Lamech –Cain’s descendant brags of killing a man and claims 77 fold vengeance for anyone who messes with him – until God laments making humanity).
God however is constantly moving to restore Shalom and spread His good and Beautiful Kingdom, choosing Abraham and his family to bless, so that all nations would be blessed through them. Abraham is blessed not to the exclusion of the other nations, but rather for the sake of the other nations. Sadly, however, instead of being agents in the spread of shalom, Israel, like Adam shatters Shalom. Shalom is so shattered that the Prophet Jeremiah looks around and laments that the earth is again formless and void.
In the midst of this shattered shalom, the hopes of Israel shrinks from being a blessing to the world, to merely being restored to their own land. They just want to get back to Jerusalem. But, God through the prophet Isaiah says that that dream is really too small, that somehow they still will be a light to the nations. God has not given up, on people created in the His image being agents of Shalom.
In many ways we are tempted by the same shrunken dream that tempted Israel millennia ago. We just want to be safe and protected (of course these are both good desires), but God has purposed that the people of God are called not just to be protected from the world, but are actually sent as agents into the world to spread the message of the Kingdom. They are ambassadors of shalom.
The people who seem most alive in the Bible understood this. They lived their lives as a mission from God for the sake of the world, while all along the way discovering the amazing goodness of God. Francis Chan provocatively illustrates it this way.
I pray that as we participate in Leap of Faith we will find ourselves so swept up in mission of God spreading his Shalom that our stories would fit in the Book.