The Shalomic Calling
By Pastor Dennis Yim
Old Testament Passage: Genesis 12:1-3
1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your land and from your kindred and from the house of your father to the land that I will show you, and I will make you a great nation and I will bless you, 2 so that your name may be great and be a blessing, 3 and I will bless those who bless you, and curse him who despises you, and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you.
I believe that there’s a lot of confusion and misunderstandings when it comes to the mission or purpose of the church. I find myself doubting (to be honest) with doubters and being skeptical about how the American Church has devolved into some kind of religious organization that seeks to build its own little kingdoms and not being concerned with the sufferings and brokenness of the world, in our cities and communities. We see how the church’s understanding of its mission has been syncretized with the religion/culture of the times: the American culture/religion (I’d like to say) emphasizes consumerism, materialism, and power.
But what if, if we simply looked in Scripture to see what our mission and purpose is (as the Church), and followed it? Maybe, we’ll see that we’re not supposed to be building up our own individual kingdoms by using the cultural trends of consumerism, materialism, and power. Rather, we’re called to build up the Kingdom of God in our world by moving towards it, by suffering for it, by embracing its brokenness, by moving towards every systems of injustice, by moving towards those we differ from, by moving towards those who consider us to be their enemies. What if we began to live the life that Jesus called us to live in Him?
I want us to ask ourselves this basic question, because this fundamental question will help us to know and understand our fundamental purpose or calling in life. We need to ask ourselves “who are we?” Because this question is intimately tied to the question what is the purpose of my life.
Over and over again we hear that the mission or the purpose of the church (if you grew up in the church) is to fulfill the Great Commission, yet, if we’re honest, I think majority of American Evangelicalism has a narrow view of the Great Commission. Because for many it’s just about making relationships so that I can convert them and then turn them into disciples of Christ and then my job is finished. Done. Off to the next person. Yet, there is no genuine care and consideration for the person and community as a whole.
Being a blessing for the world means that the Great Commission is both making disciples yet also fulfilling the cultural mandate which is to care and bring out the potential in all of God’s good creation and in the cities that we are in. What does it mean for us to fulfill Cultural Mandate in our city? It means this: we should be concerned about expressing God’s goodwill to everyone (both believers and unbelievers). It does not matter if a person is a believer or not, the responsibility of being God’s vessels of shalom is to bless them with His grace, goodness and love. Also, we are called to subdue and have dominion over creation, that means that we must be concerned with bringing out the great potential of everything in our community so that it will be of service to everyone for the glory of God. That means we, the Church, should be part of the systems of our cities, not to simply be part of it and to go with the flow, but also to bring great changes to it so that all may flourish – human flourishing is shalomic. It also means that we are called to seek after the arts; we should be concerned about bringing the best potential out of the arts (not those horrendous corny Christian movies) so that we may bring beauty in a world that is filled with chaos and ugliness. It means that we should seek after new technological advancements that can help aid with those who are suffering with various chronic ailments and diseases. It means that we should seek to further our educational systems, etc. The list goes on and on.
But in-order for us to fulfill the Cultural Mandate in our city, we ourselves must be subdued by God, this is where the Great Commission comes in. We need to be constantly transformed through His Word and Spirit, so that we can go and fill the earth with the glory of God. In our relationship with Christ, we are New Creational beings and that have been blessed. And as people who are blessed, we have been equipped with His covenantal promises and words so that we may bless others.
This is the simple yet complex calling of our mission as God’s Church. In the past, many churches functioned with a centripetal concept of missions, which was that people would come to the church to worship God. But in the time that we live today, in a secularized society, we must be a church that has a centrifugal understanding of missions; that means that we must see ourselves as the very vessels and means of God reaching out to the world so that He may bring them to Himself. The Church is always on the move, for it is always moving towards the world.
Reflection and Prayer
Take some time with your family and friends to reflect on our vocation as disciples of Christ who are called to fulfill both the Great Commission and the Cultural Mandate. How does this covenantal understanding of the Great Commission and the Cultural Mandate help you to move towards others in your community. How can you be a blessing for our city? Pray that the Lord will use you for His Kingdom so that you may be a blessing to others.
O Lord, our Savior, you have warned us that you will require much of those to whom much is given. Grant that we who have so great a heritage may strive together more abundantly to extend to others what we so richly enjoy. As we have supported the labors of others, by working with them, in their turn others may support us in our work, to the fulfillment of your holy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Prayer by St. Augustine