Why We Care About Cultural Issues

Why We Care About Cultural Issues December 8, 2014

I want to write something about Ferguson while it’s still pressing itself inon our national awareness, but I’ll just admit—I don’t quite have my ownthoughts together yet on it. These are incredibly complex issues, and I don’twant to oversimplify either the issues themselves or the biblical response(s).So stay tuned. For today, I’m reissuing a column I wrote several months agowhich offers an initial foundation for why we as a Christian church should evencare about cultural issues like this one. 

 WhenGod originally created the world, Genesis 1:31 says He looked it over and sawthat everything was “very good.” Everything was in its place. In a word,creation enjoyed “shalom.” Shalom means the fabric of the universe wasperfectly woven together. Every single thread was in its place, interwoven andinterdependent—no rips, no frays, no loose strings.

Humanity’s fall intosin shredded the fabric. Instead of the perfect integration of a tightly wovenfabric, sin produced breakdown and disintegration in every area of life:spiritual, psychological, social, physical. Biblical “justice” is simply makingthings right. It’s the restoration of shalom. It’s weaving the fabricback together wherever it’s torn or frayed—spiritually, psychologically,socially, and physically. Biblical justice is not so much about individualrights as it is about togetherness, interdependence, integration. It was acentral purpose of Jesus’ life, and it remains a central function of thechurch.

If most of us had to select apassage from Isaiah to explain Jesus’ ministry, we would likely choose Isaiah53—the suffering servant “smitten by God for our transgressions.” But whenJesus was given the opportunity to explain His mission, He turned to Isaiah 61and read about helping the poor, liberating captives, giving sight to theblind, setting free the oppressed (Luke 4:16-30). Why?

Jesus didn’t come merely to get people ready forheaven; He brought heaven down to them. He came to restore shalom.Jesus’ ministry demonstrates that the purpose of God in redemption is not tosave the elect out of the world but to save the world for the sake of theelect, that is, to renew and restore the entire creation. Jesus didn’t comemerely to save souls. He came to restore shalom to the whole creation.His resurrection from the dead is a foretaste of the resurrection, not just ofour own physical bodies, but of the entire created order.

Our purposeas a church must be in line with Jesus. We exist, not just to create a greatchurch, but to create a great suburban community. We are here for the good ofthe whole city.