So, after Part One of my rant, I have to consider the fact that The Church is designed to function as the contemporary Hall of Justice (after following in the footsteps of Christ, obviously). Which leads me down this trail:
Proverbs 29:7 says the righteous care about justice, but the wicked do not. Psalm 103 says that the Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.
Proverbs 3:17-20 says of wisdom that "all her paths are peace (shalom). She is a tree of life to those who embrace her, those who lay hold of her will be blessed. By wisdom the Lord laid hte earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by His knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds dropped their dew."
Justice and Shalom are closely linked in the Bible. Our English word ‘peace’ is way too little to convey shalom. From what I understand, the Hebrew concept of shalom is more deeply the webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in equity and delight. We translate it ‘peace’, but it means more than peace of mind. It means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight. Shalom is the way things ought to be as the way God desgined them.
Psalm 102 says that God laid out the world like a garment or a fabric. And the connection with fabric has lodged in my brain. Fabrics are woven together millions of times over. Each individual thread is woven over and under hundreds of other threads. Over and under and over and under and over and under and over and under and over and under and over and under and over and under…..The more ‘over and under’ that happens, the stronger the fabric becomes. The softer. The richer. The ‘community of thread’ is much more valuable as it’s interdependency on other threads increases. Would you rather sleep on rough, 100-thread count sheets at night or the silky, 1200 thread count feel of luxurious Egyptian cotton?
Our world is designed to function as billions of threads woven together as a God-designed, interdependent fabric.
Think about how it works physically. When your body works together like it was designed to—everything fits together, all the parts are doing what they are supposed to be doing—you experience physical shalom we call ‘health’. But if you get cancer, and your body parts are fighting against each other, working against each other, not interacting correctly or interwoven you experience a loss of physical shalom, i.e. disease.
Another example: ISupposeI have a brother/friend/stranger in need. My mind tells me it makes sense to give them $1000 (it would benefit and bless them, as well as their family.) Also, my conscience and convictions tell me it is something I ought to do. Then I call my bank and the teller informs me that I have the $1000 in my account to do it. (what a surprise that would be) And then I follow through and do it…I am experiencing a sort of psychological shalom. Everything is in harmony and agreement to be able to render aid to the one in need. (…but if I want to do something and my conscience says ‘no’ and I do it and experience guilt over it, then I am experiencing a loss of psychological shalom. Things begin to unravel and are no longer interwoven.)
What about social shalom? When those of us who have power, status, money, influence, etc. are threading it out into our community and our world, we are threading out shalom. Some of us have more, some have less, but we all have good schools. Good parks. Safe streets. We are experiencing social shalom. But if we hang on to our power, status, money, influence, and hoard it up for ourselves, we don’t have an interdependent, interwoven fabric among our community.
(See how this gives us a more ‘corporate’ or ‘communal’ vibe to being a Christian? It’s not about me, it’s about us. And further, the more it becomes about ‘me’, the more unraveling there is of the fabric…)
Then I begin thinking about some real examples in our lives. Why should I not lie? Because it’s wrong and it will get me dookie points with God. True, I guess. But more so, because it destroys shalom—it ruins/weakens the connections and trust we have on each other. Why should I not steal? Because God says so. Yeah, but because stealing is the breaking down of shalom. It’s not just wrong, it’s also stupid, because it is a sin against shalom.
Every time I sin against someone, I am deliberately unraveling …I’m defiantly destroying shalom. But more than that, I can also be an agent of shalom. I can be a builder/weaver/creator of shalom…(cue the voiceover…’Meanwhile, back at the Hall of Justice…")
In Part Three–How we are called to re-weave the fabric of shalom.