Recapturing the vision and Good News of God’s Shalom
Come with me to a beautiful garden – Eden!
Where everything is well and whole and in right relationship. Humanity is in right relationship with God, with each other, with ourselves and with creation.
This is a picture of flourishing and wellbeing as God had always intended. This is a picture of the good news of God’s shalom.
Shalom is a Hebrew word which features hundreds of times throughout the Bible (‘Shalom’ in the Hebrew written Old Testament, which is then rendered ‘Eirene’ in the Greek written New Testament). It’s primarily translated in our Bibles to the English word ‘peace’, but this is one of those occasions where our English words fail to capture the beauty and wonder and depth of the original language of the Bible.
‘Shalom’ means wholeness, completeness, harmony, and wellbeing in all facets of life (physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, relationally, financially, vocational etc. etc.).
And what did Jesus say about this?
In John 14:27, Jesus talks about the potent difference in His shalom…
“My peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Jesus’ peace is not the peace that the world tries to offer us. His peace is provides for our genuine, authentic, life-changing wellbeing and wholeness. It’s a peace that can come to us even in the midst of the toughest trials. Life might be very hard at times but, with Him, we are supernaturally able to say – like the hymn writer wrote – ‘It is well with my soul.’
God’s vision for every man, women and child is that they encounter the Good News of his Shalom.
In Eden, that vision went horribly wrong when, tempted by Satan, Adam and Eve were caused to doubt that God was good. As someone once said…
Doubting God leads to disliking God which leads to disobeying God.
Humanity’s continual rejection of both a relationship with God and the responsibility He gave us to care for the whole of creation, has resulted in a very damaged world. You don’t need me to tell you that. Our connection with God, each other, ourselves and creation is broken and we see the ill-effects of that all around.
But the wonder of this story is that God loves us so much that He is thoroughly committed to restore His shalom back to our lives. The Good News of God’s Shalom is about how God, through Jesus, is able to heal and restore us in to the wholeness and flourishing we were created for – and that’s not just a hope for Heaven when we die. When Jesus said in John 10:10 that He came to offer us life and life in all its fullness – he was talking about how God is able to bring a measure of healing, wholeness and wellbeing in lives right now, this side of Heaven – until the work is finally completed when we finally see Him face to face.
Because remember, that’s how the story will end. The symbolic pictures and language in the book of Revelation clearly point to a future reality where everything will be fully restored again – God’s shalom will fully return to the whole of creation (Eden 2.0) and there will be no suffering, sin, sickness or death.
How the modern concept of wellbeing fits in to this:
Interestingly, in 1997 the World Health Organization defined health, not as an absence of disease, but as “a dynamic state of complete physical, mental, spiritual, and social well being.” They’re describing what the Bible has talked about over thousands of years – Shalom.
Wellbeing has certainly become a buzz word in the 21st century and not surprising when it seems we are contending with so much brokenness and illness. It’s good and wise to tap into as much worldly wisdom as possible as we pursue health and wellbeing – after all, all truth is God’s truth.
But we don’t need to stop there. In fact, we mustn’t stop there. Only the creator of soul can heal your soul and make you fully whole. Every day, we should surrender to Jesus and ask His transforming power to be at work in and through our lives.
In his book, The Provocative Church, Graham Tomlinson writes…
“What is God doing about pain in his world? He is calling people like you and me to be transformed into the kind of people who are part of the solution rather than part of the problem. He is gathering a community of people who are involved in the healing of creation, who out of their joy at knowing a good God who has graced their lives, are busy gracing the lives of others, visiting those with cancer, touching those with AIDS, giving time and money to those who are poor, praying for the healing of those who are sick, cleaning up local landscapes ravaged by vandalism. Unlike Thor or Jupiter, the God of the Bible doesn’t send too many thunderbolts. He normally does his work through things, and especially through people. He worked the salvation of the world through Jesus, and he fights against evil and pain through people who live under his rule.”
With all this in mind, this is why we are focusing on running ‘The Wellbeing Journey’ in our Groups this term – alongside Sunday morning teaching entitled ‘God’s plan for your wellbeing’. We’re going to explore how we can experience more of God’s shalom in our lives as we draw closer to Him, and how we can be a channel of that Shalom to others.
So, let’s dive in together in this. What a great way to start the year!