I spent the last week with people of hope. It was a conference attended by people practicing mission to the “least of these” around the nation and they talked about ministering in hope to continue restoring shalom to our world.
My upbringing was steeped theologically in the mentality of “it’s all gonna burn.” We were waiting for the rapture.
The vision of hope and renewal was referenced in terms of revival. Personal revival or national revival, and revival was always built around powerful preaching and full church services. Redemption of creation or society wasn’t in the field of focus. Well, revival in society was focused narrowly on maybe we had full churches and empty bars… and abortion was outlawed again.
There is, of course, a fuller vision of the Kingdom of God. I have re-tooled my own thinking to understand a more full vision of the Kingdom. This is about hope and renewal… and it includes ALL of God’s creation.
I found it put succinctly in a couple of teachings during the conference this past week. One person said: “God created what is good. It broke. We are in the time of restoring what was broken.”
Another put it in the framework of Genesis:
Gen. 1-2 — The world as it was meant to be.
Gen. 3-11 — The world full of mistrust, greed, power, manipulation, destruction, etc.
Gen. 12-50 — The promise of a world to come.
What broke? Shalom. This is the idea not just of “peace,” but of unity and wholeness. Relationships with God, with ourselves, with other people, and with creation were created in wholeness in Gen. 1-2. It is the vision of flourishing and peace.
Sin breaks shalom. It breaks the way things are supposed to be. Our calling, as the people of God, is to tear down what is empowering the breaking of shalom and then also build up. Build up creation and the world as God intended. It is his work. It is his power. We are called to partner with him.
This is our vocation as humans.
To this I have given myself. I am imperfect. I am too often still full of rage. But this is the work to which I give myself.
I have called out the broken world of racism because we still must tear down the structures that empower it in our nation. I will continue to call it out.
I must also work to restore. To build up. These cues will not come from my white friends who want to feel good about themselves by asking, “Well, we’re making progress aren’t we?” I cannot take cues from fragile egos anymore.
My cues will come from the Black community. Those working in hope who have been in God’s vocation all along and have been waiting for a white guy like me to wake up to the whole issue.
Lent approaches and this year will be more of a focus of restoration than personal piety. Isaiah 58 will be my guiding text.
To this work I wish to give myself.