on peace and the fullness of salvation
In my first ministry assignment, in the Pacific NW no less, I quickly and frequently ran upon the need to understand and explain the salvation offered by Jesus as a way of life and not a transactional occurrence that tangentially bore weight on my life thereafter but was primarily concerned with what happened upon my death.
Put another way, I needed a full and robust answer to this question:
How does the death and resurrection of Jesus, the central event of the Christian faith, transform the everyday lives of humans?
Put one last way,
WHY SHOULD I FOLLOW JESUS?????????
Let me now say that I am thankful for every church and Christian and family member that poured into my life, my worldview and my understanding of the Jesus-life I was and am enveloped in. However, I had been completely unprepared to answer these questions, and I assume there are plenty more like me.
This festering concern with my ability to explain the fullness of the Jesus-life led to an ongoing pursuit where I’ve pushed myself to regularly answer two questions internally:
1. Why does following Jesus making a difference in your life right now?
2. What are the elements, or the story, of Jesus’s Gospel of the Kingdom of God which make sense in all cultures in all times?
I say all to say that a book I’ve wrestled with over the past few months, Graham Cole’s God the Peacemaker: How Atonement Brings Shalom, has been a major contribution to this continual pursuit.
Check out a paragraph from his conclusion:
Implicit in the title of this work is a question. How the does atonement bring shalom? Atonement brings shalom by defeating the enemies of peace, overcoming the barriers to both reconciliation and to the restoration of creation. This is God the peacemaker’s mission.
The work of Jesus defeats the enemies of peace, reconciliation and restoration.
No matter where you are, there are enemies of peace. Personal and systemically in every heart and every culture, which is a collection of human hearts.
What would a collection of humans who have been relieved of the enemies of peace look like?
A beachhead in the midst of the world. A new humanity, living into a vision of a new reality, a new world.
Salvation, therefore, or at least a major facet of salvation, is reconciliation to God so that we participate in that beachhead movement.
Ok, ok, let’s just call it what it’s supposed to be: Church.
[image by Jason Munn]