A community of Shalom. In a post-modern world and its cultural context Christians, in order to engage in effective mission and the making of shalom will need (amongst other things):. A clear and compelling IDEOLOGY. A strong sense of IDENTITY.
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In a post-modern world and its cultural context Christians, in order to engage in effective mission and the making of shalom will need (amongst other things):
A clear and compelling IDEOLOGY
A strong sense of IDENTITY
INTIMACY (‘koinonia’)with brothers and sisters in the context of Christian community
To make an IMPACT – i.e. showing evidence that God is involved in life changing activity- spiritually, personally, socially, economically etc
1.Life is hardLife can be easy
2.You’re going to dieYou can stay young and keep looking/feeling young for ever
3.You’re not that importantYou are the most important
4.You’re not in controlAbove all else you must stay in control
5.Life is not just about youLife is mostly about you and your fulfilment
‘To be an active agent of the kingdom is our highest calling. The kingdom generates new forces of righteousness, justice and peace through the means of servanthood and self giving love….we begin to test things by a biblical judgement and the church is slowly led from conformity to community and change…..The kingdom is within us and among us; it is our standard, our calling, our hope and our salvation. It is deeper, stronger, more profound and lasting than all our programmes, strategies, projects and causes.” Jim Wallis – Sojourners Washington DC
The experience of community is in itself extremely evangelistic. In a world starved of relationships it seems that even the most basic functions of community are powerfully attractive. In those special times when the congregation is able to achieve honesty among its members and before God, there is a qualitative experience of ‘koinonia’ which seems to pervade most defence mechanisms. It is not the kingdom of God but in those precious moments the community becomes a sign of the kingdom.
“First the new community should constitute a challenge to the old. Its values,and ideals, its morals and relationships, its sacrificial lifestyle, its love, joy, peace – these are the signs of the kingdom, and present the world with a radically different alternative society. Secondly as the world lives alongside the kingdom community, some of the values of the kingdom will spill over into society as a whole. The salt, light and yeast metaphors which Jesus employed are more dynamic, since each implies the penetration of the old community by the new.”
John Stott – Making Christ Known
“Shalom is an enduring vision….among the eloquent spokesmen for this vision is Jeremiah writing to the exiles urging the validity of the vision even among displaced persons: ‘I will fulfil to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, plans for shalom and not for evil, top give you a future and a hope…..you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes.”
from a Hebrew verb meaning ‘to bring to completeness’ – ‘ to make whole’. It suggests health, wholeness and well-being in these areas:
INDIVIDUALLY – soundness of body, mind and spirit, health of body and soul, being a ‘together’ person
BETWEEN PERSONS – relationships of trust, love, mutuality, openness and respect, a caring concern for the other person
IN GROUPS AND SOCIETY – being satisfied with enough so that all may have enough, a commitment to social justice- no one group standing ‘on the neck’ of the other
IN THE NATURAL WORLD – living in interdependence, having mutual responsibility, no exploitation of the created order – no pollution
is God’s gift
is God’s vision which passes all understanding
is the total well-being God will for His whole created order
is the fulfilment of His purposes
is the content of God’s reign
…………..and all through Jesus Christ – the Prince of Shalom Isaiah 9:6
SHALOM is God’s ultimate will that things will be as they ought to be and working together as God intends
# the RULE of God is recognised
# the WAYS of God are learnt
# and God’s way of lifestyle is PRACTICED
…..….…then SHALOM results [Isaiah 2:2-4]
GOD’S SHALOM COMMUNITY – THE CHURCH – HAS THREE PRIMARY TASKS:
MAKING REAL GOD’S REIGN IN IN THE WORLD
TO ENGAGE IN MISSION ON GOD’S BEHALF
TO BE A WORSHIPPING COMMUNITY
As a community of God’s shalom community, brought together in and through Christ, we make real God’s reign in the world when we live as:
His NATION – therefore are we primarily Christian or British?
ALIENS, PILGRIMS and STRANGERS in a world that is hostile and opposed to God’s rule and reign in Christ
As a DISTINCTIVE people who do not conform either to the norms of the world and its culture or to anything that denies or defies the Lordship of Christ
Sharing in Christ’s mission and the making of shalom will involve God’s people in;
Witnessing to Jesus’ love & friendship
Penetrating the world in every aspect of its life
Making known the good news of shalom
Declaring God’s forgiveness
Counselling and supporting
Loving those who will not, cannot love us
Demonstrating and making real God’s kingdom
Healing in body, mind and spirit
Befriending, serving, feeding and sheltering others
Building Christian community
New methods, new strategies or structures will neither fulfil God’s purposes or meet the needs of people unless there is a continuing and radical renewal of trust in Christ as Lord within the community of God’s people
The ‘poor’ in the O.T. (Hebrew) – each of the words translated as poor has a spectrum of meanings. Poor is an inadequate translation!
The poor are described as those who are;
# Oppressed, downtrodden and humiliated
# Powerless and diminished
# Yearning and insistent
# Defenceless and open to exploitation
# Needy and in want
# Subjected and dependent
# Diminished and impoverished
# Destitute and bereft
# Dispossessed and evicted
– are described as;
# The manual worker struggling to survive
#The one reduced to ‘meekness’
#The one brought low #The beggar
#The weak #The leper
#The heavy laden #The widow
#The fatherless #The destitute
#The common people
Why is life so different in ‘white’ communities than in others?
Why, in this nation, are there so many who are described as ‘poor, deprived, exploited and unfulfilled’?
Why is there such a gap between the haves’ and the ‘have nots’ – in this nation and globally?
Why are a disproportionate number of black young men in prison than those who are white?
Why are there so few genuine links between white churches/denominations and their black counterparts?
“ The God who has revealed himself in Jesus makes it very clear in His word (to those who welcome His revelation), that our response to poverty is a crucial test of the reality of our faith.
It is impossible to really know Jesus and be indifferent to the plight of the poor.”
THEREFORE – what challenges and tensions can be anticipated as you seek to make shalom among young people and communities