According to THE BIBLE, when God first created people (and, well, everything, for that matter), “it was good”. Day 1 came and went, and God held Judgment on it, and the verdict was “good”. Day 2, the same. Day 3, and so on. “It was good”; “it was good”; “it was good”.
Think about that a minute. Every day of Week 1 is Judgement Day, and every Judgement Day, the verdict is “Good”.
Hmmm… You know what?
Those of us among the ranks of Bible-believing Christians might oughta consider carefully what makes a Judgement Day so “Good” to God. Just what is going on there to create and sustain such a beautiful shalom?
And before sin and death come on the scene, God has the man and the woman naked and unashamed cultivating a garden with no sweat of the brow anywhere to be found! Just what does it look like when a naked man and a naked woman PLANT SEED???
(This sounds almost like the euphemism and innuendo of a bad country song!)
Well, according to Genesis 1:26-27, this is what God LOOKS LIKE – God FULL FRONTAL! And, it would seem, creation is counting on the humans bearing this image so that it can maintain proper order – SHALOM.
Cultivating with no sweat.
How does that work?
Let me confess a shocker here: Agent X does not have all mysteries worked out.
But I do know some things. And one of those things is that just a few chapters later God comes to Egypt to find his son toiling away by the sweat of his brow in Pharaoh’s brickyards and crying out for mercy. And one thing is sure: God doesn’t call that a “Good” day. There is something wrong here. The people of God are working their tails off, and God is not pleased about it.
Do I sound like I promote laziness?
Well, that is possible, but it is not the only possibility by any stretch. So if you are stuck with only that alternative, then FREE YOUR MIND.
Let’s just stick with THE BIBLE here and see where this goes.
God sends Moe to Pharaoh with a message: “That’s My Son you are picking on. Let My people go!”
And Pharaoh, not being one to let God’s people sit around being lazy all day says, “No”. And not only that, but it occurs to him that if these Hebrews have enough time to cry out to their God, then they should gather their own straw for the bricks and keep up the quota too.
And so “the world” tells us: MUST MAKE BRICKS!
Does this sound familiar to you? I think Amazon should sell an alarm clock that wakes you up really early every morning shouting, “Must make bricks!… MUST MAKE BRICKS!! … MUST MAKE BRICKS!!!”
Are you tired of the daily grind? Got bills to pay? … kids to get off to school? … piano lessons & soccer practice? … a long commute? … a deadline to meet?… a double shift to cover? … dental work to pay for? …are you taking a “working vacation”? SUCK IT UP, BUSTER, You MUST MAKE BRICKS!
Yeah, at 5:30 in the morning, let’s be honest, you want to smash that alarm clock, but you have the American Dream to live. It’s not shalom, but you can’t imagine God’s world any gooder. And so you listen to old Pharaoh, and you do what he says.
But that’s not what God says.
Fast forward to the Jews in Nazi concentration camps eons and millennia later. The people of God toiling away at killing themselves just as fast as the murder industrial complex can muster. And what do the Nazi taskmasters tell God’s people?
“WORK WILL MAKE YOU FREE!”
Yeah. It’s Pharaoh’s gospel come back with a vengeance! And all these people see is death and destruction, as they are tasked with killing themselves for the sake of killing themselves as fast as they can. It is an urgent work. Lot’s of sweat of the brow! And just to put a little pep in the step, the Nazi’s tell them that work will make them free!
How’s that for Judgment Day”
How’s that for shalom?
I mean, as long as we are sitting around seeking shalom, why not Nazi shalom, huh?
So here we are talking about shalom on a homeless ministry blog. And I now come to the “Seeking Shalom” class put out by the Lupton Center where our old friends Corbett and Fikkert have found “work” instructing Christians not to do for the poor what they can do for themselves as a means of God’s care in their lives.
Lupton calls this “Seeking Shalom”, but it sounds to me like its Seeking The American Dream, like a baptized Egyptian brickyard, like a precursor for Nazi propaganda. And though they pepper their offerings with Bible quotes here and there, it is alarming how much they say with no reference to Scripture at all. And then of the places where they do offer reference, matters like context and relevance to the subject are generally up for grabs.
We have some real and deep biblical insight into God’s shalom. His Gospel message offers us Jesus, a Lord who does for us what we should have done for ourselves, but failed at. He bears the image of God, utterly naked and unashamed on a Roman cross. And he takes a wife, his church, to be faithful to him so that together they can sustain the shalom God gives by cultivating together in the garden of God.
How about we tell our homeless friends about that shalom?
Turns out, we would have to be seeking it ourselves.