In the first post in this series, we explored the deeper meaning of the word shalom — completeness, fulfillment, flourishing, and wholeness. We looked at the fall, Adam and Eve’s rebellion, and the wrecked shalom that ensued — shame, division, alienation, demand, frustration, among them. Finally, we talked about how shalom and broken shalom relate to eating disorders as well as body image issues, idolatry, and addictions of all kinds.
Today, we focus on the good news of how Jesus, our Redeemer, brought hope for all who struggle with sin and the effects of living in a fallen world. We’ll frame it in terms of four re’s of redemption.
1. Redemption: the very word redemption refers to God paying a price to liberate his people from bondage to sin. That ridiculously high price was his only Son, Jesus, and no, we didn’t deserve it. This means that when you’ve “done it again,” whether you’ve performed yourself into a frenzied fatigue, or drunk yourself to the bottom of the barrel, and the self-condemnation begins, you can agree with yourself — no, I’m not worthy of love and healing. But then you take it a step farther — “And the bizarre news of redemption is that God loved me right in this very place. ‘There is now no condemnation in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).This gospel reality — that God came to save sinners, to heal our shame, is what sets our sin-addicted hearts free from the sham shalom we seek.
2. Reconciliation: The amazing story of redemption is that the holy God is reconciled to his people through Christ’s sacrifice. If we have to get on our knees seventy times seven times seven million times and ask forgiveness for hating or harming the body he claims to be his temple, he will never say, “You did it again?! This time I can’t forgive you.” It’s already done. Finished. You are completely loved, at peace, at rest In Christ — shalomed — and nothing can change God’s mind. You might not believe it, but you can never change his mind about you.
God transforms our brokenness into a glimpse of his glory.
3. Recreation: God has not only reconciled us — he has made us ministers of his reconciliation. If the news of forgiveness and finished work is unbelievable, this one is just plain preposterous. “If anyone is in Christ — new creation! The old has passed away; the new has come.” (2 Cor. 5:17) “For our sake, he made him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Remember the naked and ashamed part? We are no longer. We are clothed in flowing robes of righteousness, and God sends us as his ambassadors to minister to the world (2 Cor. 5:18-20). In the garden, shalom included fulfillment in calling and work — being fruitful and multiplying, ruling and resting. In Christ, our very marred redeemed presence is his fruit, the taste of which draws others to him. So, we can never say, “I’m too screwed up for God to call me as his ambassador.” God transforms our sin and sorrow, making it a megaphone for his message.
4. Remembering: Because I’ve tossed and turned in the muck of shame, I know how this good news could sound to some of you: of how some of you might respond to this good news. “Yes, I know it’s true intellectually, but I struggle to believe I am a new creation.” This is why we must gather with others to remember redemption. Alone, we will hear the lies as Eve once did, and perhaps we will succumb. God has made us members of one body. We need to gather with this body to hear the old, old story preached. We need to be with people who will tell us our stories of redemption when we’ve forgotten them. We need to feast on the bread of Christ’s body broken for us and drink of the wine of his new covenant sealed by his blood.
Shalom has been restored — not fully, yet — we still struggle with sin, and the cosmos still aches for the final day, but Christ has made the empty full, set the prisoner free, brought rest to the weary and heavy-laden. That is the hope that completes us.