We Care . . .
“The state of shalom is the state of flourishing in all dimensions of one’s existence: in one’s relation to God, in one’s relation to one’s fellow human beings, in one’s relation to nature, and in one’s relation to oneself….An ever-beckoning temptation for the [American] evangelical is to assume that all God really cares about for human beings here on earth is that they be born again and thus destined for salvation….[However], what God desires for human beings is that comprehensive mode of flourishing which the Bible calls shalom….God’s love of justice is grounded in God’s longing for the shalom of God’s creatures and in God’s sorrow over its absence.”
This quote sums up why we seek to be actively involved in meeting all kinds of needs in Highlandtown and Baltimore. Any valid need – a lack of adequate housing or shelter, a lack of caring relationships with others, a lack of food, a lack of adequate preparation or English language skills for entry into the Baltimore job market – is a lack of shalom. It is a lack of the kind of wholeness and peace in which God designed us to live. The Bible teaches us that God is grieved over the lack of shalom on earth. Furthermore, He is acting to remedy this situation.
He has acted to remedy this situation by bringing His kingdom into our broken world through Jesus Christ. In fact, the controlling paradigm for Jesus’ life was that of someone who was consciously bringing the Kingdom of God into the world. Pointing to a much larger reality than a simple geo-political kingdom, Jesus was talking about the state of affairs where, because His Kingship is being exercised in a given location through His people, everyone “flourishes in all dimensions of existence”. Why? Because whenever any person, culture, or institution comes under the rule and reign of the Kingdom of God there is healing, a restoration of shalom. Jesus brings spiritual healing by reconciling people with God; He brings relational healing by reconciling people with each other and creating a society where people meet each other’s needs; and He brings psychological healing by reconciling people with themselves.
Since the people of God are defined by the Kingdom of God, they are to be about the life-long business of seeking to see His shalom spread. We are called to be co-laborers with God. Yet, because our action is firmly grounded in the work of God, we do not join the fight against injustice and evil with arrogance or self-confidence. Quite the contrary, for the Bible teaches us that we ourselves are part of the problem. However, since the Kingdom of God is centered around the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on our behalf, we can enter into the battle with confidence that is not rooted neither in our own moral virtue nor our finite human strength. Rather, the healing of the world flows out of the infinite reservoir that is the grace of God.