Building or Breaking Shalom

If you’ve known me you know that I don’t like talking about sin in the way that traditional evangelical churches like to talk about sin.  I bristled when in a seminary evangelism class it was seen as an absolute necessity to make one aware of her sin before she could be saved.  Like holding a drowning swimmer under water before throwing a life preserver, we had to be sure to pound her with her own shortcomings before we could offer any help.

I was excited, then, when I came across this fresh interpretation of “sin” over at Storied Theology.  Does it make sense to conceive of sin as those actions which do not contribute to rebuilding or actually taking away from shalom?  I don’t think that this detracts from the more common understanding, that sinful actions are those that miss the mark of God’s will, whatever that may be in a particular instance.  Personally, I’m more attracted to this more holistic shalom breaking approach.

Immediately upon seeing this new thought, I began thinking backwards.  Paul, in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, calls his own work the “ministry of reconciliation.”  He thought himself to be informing the world of the Christ’s work in reconstructing a state of shalom between the Creator and humanity.

Indeed, Paul, as well as other biblical authors, foresees an end in which all of creation, including the natural world, would rejoice in the finished work of the Messiah.  Romans 8:20-22 describes a natural order that has been in a frustrated state since the initial shalom breaking committed by Adam.  Isaiah, long before Paul, anticipated a similar restoration of creation (55:12-13).

An all-encompassing peace was shattered.  This same pervasive peace is being reestablished in Christ.  The question for me is, then, How can I get behind that?


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