Monday, July 03, 2006

Lost Themes of Mission - Shalom...

It is sad that we as a Church have allowed the concept of shalom to remain a carved olive wood curio bought back by Holy Land travelers to sit on our desks, hang on our walls!

David Bosch (1993) points out that:
"The mission of the church, then, has all the dimensions and scope of Jesus' own ministry and may never be reduced to church planting and the saving of souls. It consists in proclaiming and teaching, but also in healing and liberating, in compassion for the poor and the downtrodden. The mission of the church, as the mission of Jesus, involves being sent into the world - to love, to serve, to preach, to teach, to heal, to save, to free."
Contentious or a true picture of holistic mission? I'm wondering if the depth of our understanding of shalom holds the key.

Pernell quite some way back pointed out Dan Sheffield and his post describing shalom - here it was a useful and comforting reminder to me how central the concept of shalom was to Jesus and his motive and message of mission.

Jim Punton seems to make sense to me. I've a couple of his papers linked under 'mission' and I've just finished reading his paper "The Community of Shalom: God's Radical Alternative" (here). It is a thorough exegesis of God's purpose in Jesus and his missional heartbeat of shalom.

Punton points out
"Another concept as large as shalom is soteria which means 'liberation into wholeness', 'salvation'. It has a 'from', a 'to' and a 'for'. Rescue, liberation, emancipation deliverance from a non-shalom situation - into shalom, experienced variously as new life, wholeness, freedom, health, well-being..."
He sees shalom as a central driving force, a useful way to consider the Christian community's responsibility for social engagement, a way to reflect and to share in Christ's mission. He asks some difficult questions of the church.
"God is dishonoured by the reasons for the plight of the needy, the oppressed and the outcast. With such as these, the hungry, the naked, the captives, Jesus entered into solidarity. Can we do less? Can we ignore our responsibility to incarnate the heart, mind, love, touch and word of Christ?"
It is sad that we as a Church have allowed the concept of shalom to remain in the flower power '60's lexicon. It is sad that we as a Church have allowed the concept of shalom to remain a cosy, oozey nice feelings about each other concept. It is sad that we as a Church have allowed the concept of shalom to remain a carved olive wood curio bought back by Holy Land travelers to sit on our desks, hang on our walls! What is really sad is when we work so hard at ignoring the concept, worried that the concept might in some insidious way be obscuring our true 'church' work, working up our apologetics to turn a blind eye to its centrality. Sad above all we ignore our responsibility and that in all our efforts we dishonour God.

It seems more and more people are understanding mission through the lens of shalom but equally by and large shalom is missing from the bulk of understanding of mission and remains a lost theme of mission.

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Lost Themes of Mission - Holiness...
Lost Themes of Mission - Righteousness...
Lost Themes of Mission - Agape...
Lost Themes of Mission - Jubilee...
Lost Themes of Mission - Salvation...

1 comment:

Yvonne said...

'The vision of wholeness, which is the supreme will of the biblical God, is the outgrowth of a covenant of SHALOM (Ez. 34:25), in which persons are bound not only to God, but to one another in a caring, sharing, rejoicing community with none to make them afraid.... In its most inclusive dimension it is a vision encompassing all reality, expressed in the mystery and majesty of creation images...'
Impressed and overwhelmed by these words from Walter Brueggemann (Living toward a Vision)