Resurrecting the Shalom in the World
It seems that one of God’s Big Ideas for the world is, and has been, to ultimately bring shalom, or a kind of peace, justice and universal flourishing to the world. Though this may seem like a far off hope for those living in places of real suffering today, the shalom solution is not as far off as we might think. God is still working us toward that goal, one day and one kind word, one helping hand, at a time. The thing is, the reason why it is closer than you might think it because it’s not something we’re simply waiting for. Its not going to come as something God does TO us, one magical day. No, it is something God IS doing THROUGH US, even today, by drawing more and more people into relationship with Himself and by inspiring us to show kindness, and shalom toward one another. This is something we can all do – right now – and in so doing, we could radically shift the shalom of the entire planet. God’s universal invitation to us today, is to co-create this shalom with Him throughout the world. Jesus’ resurrection life empowers us to do just that: be ambassadors of shalom to the world, and let the world of Christ infuse the world of man.
This seems to be the ultimate desire of God for our world, the direction He’d like to take US in. However, people differ on HOW and WHEN we think God is accomplishing this and what OUR ROLE is in this plan. Jesus’ coming into his Spiritual Kingdom on earth is fulfilled and is being fulfilled through US now. And this shalom flourishes through the ongoing spread of His Kingdom as we work collaboratively WITH God for shalom. How will this shalom come into the world and repair it more fully? In what ways will we see His growing presence IN us over time?
Are we living like we’re co-creating a bright future with God? Are WE the tool God is using to benefit and bless the world?
The Hebrew prophets were like the voice of God, reminding God’s people that they were to be a benefit and blessing to all the world. They challenged, “Your Mission, if you choose to accept it; repair the shalom in the world.” Repairing the shalom in the world means something much deeper than bringing it to right order, or employing the right rules or even fighting for peace and justice (an oxymoron sometimes?). It means more than simply ceasing from warfare or injustice.
It is living together in such a way that we weave back together the the unravelings in the fabric of society. It is seeking to knit it into a harmonious interdependence. It is a posture of heart and life that strengthens the webbing of humanity and keeps humanity whole. It is a way of living so that basic needs are satisfied, people are empowered, given a voice and their gifts are fruitfully employed. It is living in symbiosis with each other, the world over.
I suppose we begin by seeking to repair the shalom in our own lives, making them whole. Then we seek to do this in our families. Then we look for harmonious interdependence among our network of friends and neighbors. Then our colleagues, towns and cities. The in our states, countries and with our neighboring countries.
Speaking of weaving people together like a garment, in Psalm 102 the Psalmist compares the Old Covenant way of being God’s people to an old garment. He uses the common biblical metaphor of ‘heaven and earth of Old’ to portray the Old Covenant way of being God’s people under the law. Specifically, he compares the Old covenant way of being God’s people, to the disintegration of the fabric of an old garment. The system was disintegrating because it was an unsustainable system. Neither harmonious, nor symbiotic in the world. He is setting up the idea of a need for change.
Of Old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands [i.e. You made the Old Covenant]. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment.
Why would the Old Covenant garment wear out? Its purpose was to set up the need for change by Messiah. Why was a change needed? Because the old way of being God’s people [the Old earth] under the Old Covenant system [the Old heavens] was not ultimately conducive to knitting back together the fabric of humanity. The Old world was all about separation and keeping things APART.
Think of the story of the creation of the old heavens and earth. From the beginning of the Old Covenant world, the ‘first creation’, it was about separation; of light from dark, of land from water, of clean from dirty, men from women. Then as the law grew, so did the burdens of separation; Jew from non-Jew, this kind of day from that kind of day, clean food from unclean food, holy from unholy, etc. What good is a society that can’t stay knitted together? What use is a garment whose fabric is separating?
The Psalmist was illustrating and foreshadowing a *change* of possibilities coming. A change coming in the way of doing life together. A change in the way of being knitted together as God’s people. Young’s Literal makes it even more clear, “all of them like a garment become Old, as clothing You change them, and they are changed “ (Ps 102:26).
This *change* was far off for the Psalmist. But it was within reach for Paul and his very own Corinthian audience whom he said would live to experience this change of covenantal garments! This *change* in the way of being God’s people was to happen on the Last Day of the Old Covenant order that was swiftly approaching Paul’s first century audience. This *change* would be set into motion by the will and voice of God, also often depicted in Scripture as a “trumpet” (cf Heb 12:19, Rev 1:10, 4:1, 8:13).
1 Cor 15:51-52 “Behold, I tell YOU [Corinthians] a mystery; WE [Paul & Corinthians] will not all sleep [die], but WE [Paul & Corinthians] will all be *changed*, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet [voice of God calling down the Old Covenant system like the walls of Jericho]; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raisedimperishable, and WE [Paul & Corinthians & all the saints alive in 70AD] will be *changed*.” [my emphasis added]
The Hebrew writer says a very similar thing to both the Psalmist and Paul.
Heb 1:12 “Like a robe you will roll them [heaven and earth of the Old Covenant system] up, like a garment they will be *changed*. But You are the same, and Your years will have no end.”
Ps 102:26 “They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment.”
What *change* were Paul, the Hebrew writer and the Psalmist talking about? For one thing, it was a change in covenant garments, from Old to New Covenant robes. This was putting on the resurrection life of Christ or “waking from sleep” or living in the light. This would work itself out among people as a change of focus from keeping the law, to becoming united with Christ, free in Christ, and seeking to fulfill the law of love. This law of love of God and humanity was the spiritual undergirding all of the law, and eventually consumed the law itself.
What was far off to the Psalmist was on the imminent horizon of Paul, “the night is far spent, the Day is at hand! So live as children of the Day!” he wrote to the Romans. And what was imminent for Paul has been fulfilled in Christ for us today. This change from the spiritual death of Adam to the resurrection life of Christ is something that we live in the light of NOW. For those who have been buried with Christ, God has raised us up with Christ, too.
Being united to Christ means we have been mysteriously *changed*, woven into the very fabric of love. We belong, we have a place in this garment of love now. When we live this out, when we wear our true colors, we become the instrument of Shalom, a benefit and blessing to all the world. Living as this Shalom, we find places where the garment is unraveling and we seek to knit them back together. We pray “bind us together, Lord, in love, with chords that cannot be broken”.
From the standpoint of the Psalmist, the New Humanity, or new heaven and earth, had yet to be created.
Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people YET to be CREATED may praise the Lord:
But from the standpoint of us, today, we ARE the New Humanity that HAS been created. We can live as the fabric, the garment, the robe, who have been “changed” in Christ. We are the changed humanity ever since the Day of Christ’s victory over the Old Covenant system when the voice of God, the last trumpet, sounded the END of the Old Mosaic system of the law. And the system of laws crumbled in 70AD, along with each stone of the Temple which upheld and represented it.
The Seed that remained was Christ, and the New Humanity clothed in New Covenant robes of love, freedom from the law and peace with God.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end. The children of your servants shall continue; their Seed shall be established before you.
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the redemption and resurrection life of Jesus was revealed in the New Humanity. The New Humanity was gathered, resurrected, breathed new life into and renewed to go out into the world and love it back together. It was freed to seek out and grow the Shalom all around us.
As we put on our New Covenant garments of praise, and our white robes of spiritual flourishing, we find that our everlasting garments are fitting clothes for a Wedding Feast. Let us not be found ‘naked’ in God’s sight, but clothed in the Spirit of Shalom. The Seed that was planted long ago continues to grow in the world in and among us. The garments will continue to be knit together into the fabric and Shalom of the world until it flows like a river, like a river of a universal flourishing.
Happy Easter! He is risen. He is risen in us! We are risen with him!