The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
God looked at all that He had made and it was good.
If we want to know more about the character of God then we only have to look out the window. God has displayed His splendour above the heavens and crowned us with glory to rule over all creation (Ps 8).
The heavens proclaim His righteousness, all peoples see His glory. Ps 97:6
The heavens, the sun, the moon and the stars literally communicate something about God. They display knowledge. The heavenly bodies are a tangible evidence of who God is. We know God through His created order that exists in the skies and shows in the sunrise, the sunset and the colours of the rainbow (Ken Wystma).
“If we gain knowledge of God through His static creation, how much more do we gain through Gods dynamic creation of His people and the symphony of justice” (Ken Wystma).
We were created as stewards of creation. To care for and be accountable for all that God created. Gods dynamic art is the part of creation that includes people. “The grand plan…that God wants to achieve through his dynamic art, is peace, goodness, unity and relationship all to His glory” (K. Wystma). His dynamic plan rests on Shalom. That all of his created order, all of creation both static and dynamic finds peace, wholeness and unity. That all experience restoration and wholeness. This is why the whole earth cries out
Everything that has been made in the world will be set free from the power that can destroy. These will become free just as the children of God become free. We know that everything on the earth cries out for new birth. Rom 8:21- 22
Biblical shalom is the “all encompassing desire of God for peace and goodness throughout creation” (K.Wystma). It is harmony, completeness, wholeness, fulfilment and healthy relationships, all flourishing. Injustice and sin tear at the fabric of Shalom.
Dr John Stackhouse a Theology Professor at Regent College says this in an interview about Shalom. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsGYUkH4zZ0)
Shalom is a wonderful Hebrew word that means ‘peace’ and ‘flourishing’. Each tree, each animal, each person flourishes. Each school, each Nation, each business, each family flourishes. It is a global idea where everything is as it can be. Everything lives up to its potential. God created the world and he wants it all back. He is looking forward to a new sky and a new earth. He God doesn’t just want human souls to come up and live in a kind of heaven with him. He wants a new heaven and a new earth and he wants it to flourish and the best part is that he wants us to partner in this work.
God created human beings before he made Christians. Humans are made in the image of God and the gifts of God are found in many, many people. God wants to know who will ally with Him in the work of Shalom and who will help look after creation, the minorities, the broken, and the disenfranchised.
Stackhouse suggests that our mission is to make the most of life in the world in cooperation with God’s own mission of redeeming the world he loves. Dualistic thinking would have us believe that this world and everything in it is decaying and is going to end. That creation is less than good. This is contrary to the plan and model that God has for the planet and everything on it.
When we look at the pattern of God’s activity in the Bible, and in subsequent history, of working through earthly means– God works through individuals, communities, and institutions. Yes they are deeply flawed, but nonetheless capable of accomplishing God’s purposes. Christians must find a way to live in this world and at the same time do work that honors God and God’s plan for us (Stackhouse).
IF all we believe in is an escape plan, and evacuation then we have missed the plan of God.
1: What is the ultimate Christian Hope?
2: What Hope is there for the world?
If we believe that we die, and go to heaven, and are taken away from this world then the two are unrelated. If we believe in a New heaven and a New earth as spoken of by Paul and John in the new testament then they are related.
N.T.Wright in his book ‘Surprised by Hope’ puts it this way:
“What God did for Jesus at Easter He will do not only for those who are in christ but for the whole cosmos. It will be an act of new creation parallel to and derived from the act of new creation when God raised Jesus from the dead…there will be a dramatic birth of new creation from the womb of the old”.
There is a new world and it has already begun. It works through healing and forgiveness and fresh starts and peace and hope. It brings hope through beauty and life and flourishing. There is good news of freedom and justice and beauty and life. Those who follow Christ should be the bearers of this good news to all people, creatures, creation, cultures and every place that they encounter.
Everything Belongs by Richard Rohr
Pursuing Justice by Ken Wystma
Surprised by Hope by N.T.Wright
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