Healing brokenness in EACH of us... Discovering wholeness in ALL of us.
God is a relational being (Father, Son and Spirit). Whatever God creates reflects who He is. Therefore, when God created the world, He created a world in relational harmony. The ancient Hebrews called this “shalom”. Shalom describes the relational harmony that exists in the human relationship to self, God, one another and the rest of creation. God pronounced a “blessing” over this creation and called it “very good” (cf. Gen. 1:26-28, 31). The “fall” (humankind’s first sin) fractured and broke each of the relationships of “shalom” (self, God, one another, rest of creation). The result was poverty of relationships. Due to the comprehensive nature of the fall, every human being is poor in the sense of not fully experiencing these four relationships in the way God intended. In Eden, before sin entered the world, the first man and woman could simply receive God’s blessing and were free to live out of it. Now, in a fallen world, humankind tends to live life to get or gain a blessing from God instead of simply receiving what God already provides. Sin has confused and confounded us. We find ourselves wounded, fractured and broken. Instead of sharing God’s blessing, we share our brokenness. Because of sin, we are at war! Instead of experiencing “shalom”, we find ourselves at war with self, God, others and creation. Nothing is as it should be. Satan wreaks havoc on the world — we are broken and isolated. Hurt people hurt people. Healing is the first step to wholeness (i.e. “shalom”).
“in EACH of us”
When God created humankind, he made each one in His image, the image of God. He made each of us to experience “shalom”. Each one is valuable to God. Each one is worth the pursuit of healing. This often means that each one must work on “me” before there can be a “we”. We must learn the “oxygen mask” principle. It’s as simple as the pre-flight instructions when aboard an aircraft — in the event of a loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling, place your own oxygen mask on first, then assist your child. It all seems counterintuitive upon first hearing. Wouldn’t you care for your child first? Yet, unless you take care of yourself first, you are incapable of properly caring for others. Healing must take precedence “in each of us” so that we can care for one another and “bear each other’s burdens”.
2 Corinthians 1 - 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (NIV)
The “dot, dot, dot” (. . .) is a crucial part of any story. It signals the story has more to tell, that there are chapters yet to be written. It says the story is still in process of taking its final form and shape, that we have a part to play in how the story ends. In the story of brokenness to wholeness, Christ is the hero, the primary catalyst in affecting the change we want to see. Walking with him enables each of us to heal our brokenness and discover our wholeness. Christ and his cross forms the “bridge” from here to there. As Colossians boldly asserts...
Colossians 1 - 15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (NIV)
The transition from brokenness to wholeness is a PROCESS of which the “dot, dot, dot” represents. It is about steps not leaps. This process is a “mystery” that is not always the same for each person, but requires a complete surrender to Christ (implied in cross), supreme over all. For, Christ is the one who “holds all things together” and “sustains all things by his powerful word”. This is the point where Christ must enter each of our stories. He is the bridge from brokenness to wholeness. He puts us together, forming us into a better, more beautiful picture, like a mosaic.Only Jesus saves (“save”, a word in the NT that implies holistic change)! Too often we drill wells, dispense medicine and provide food without narrating that Jesus Christ is the Creator and Provider of these material things. Then, later we offer a Bible study in which we explain Jesus can save our souls. This is the wrong message that says material things solve material problems and Jesus solves spiritual poverty. But, only one can truly reconcile the broken relationships that underlie material poverty and all other forms of our fractured state, the Jesus of Colossians 1. Jesus is central to our mission just as the “dot, dot, dot” (. . .) stands in the center of our statement.
Together, we discover there is more to my healing than a rescue from sin, but the beginning of whole life restoration. As we get closer to Christ, he opens our eyes to the full implications of the gospel on myself, others, creation and my relationship with God. For the New Testament word, “salvation” is much bigger than a sin cure, it implies a complete restoration to God, self, others and creation. The “shalom” that sin disrupted in the beginning, God intends to restore in me, in us. God intends to take the whole gospel to the whole person.
If poverty and brokenness is rooted in broken relationships, then the solution to poverty is rooted in the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection to put all things into right relationship again. This is best discovered collectively with others. We, us, the church, was set apart for this work, this ministry of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5 - ...if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (NIV)
There is no lasting change without a person becoming a new creature in Christ. We seek to restore people to a full expression of humanness. This is what made Christ unique in that he was fully human. He showed us what whole humanity can be. Whole people heal people. Blessed people bless others. We empower others with the fullness of Christ in us. We can say, “follow me (as I follow Christ)”.
“in ALL of us”
God believes in our collective potential as the local church. We are community. Church is lived out together. Wholeness comes collectively not alone. As we gain wholeness, we become more relational. Relationship is crucial to continued healing and wholeness. We’ve moved from isolation to community. Community is the pathway to continued growth and development, empowering each other toward Christlikeness.
Ephesians 4 - “12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ." (NLT)
As we become whole, we become a contagious movement. God is looking for partners (John 20:19-23 - to “breathe” on us, his disciples and restart his “new creation” work in the world)! This is our collective work.