The Hope of Creation Care

The hope of care for creation can be expressed in one word: shalom.

Which begs the question: What exactly does shalom mean?

Author and professor Cornelius Plantinga in his book “Not The Way Its Supposed To Be: A Breviary of Sin” gives a definition of shalom when he writes, “The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight is what the Hebrew prophets call shalom.”

The prophets knew how many ways human life can go wrong because they knew how many ways human life can go right. (You need the concept of a wall on a plumb to tell when one is off.). These prophets kept dreaming of a time when God would put things right again.

They dreamed of anew age in which human crookedness would be straightened out, rough places made plain. The foolish would be made wise and the wise, humble. They dreamed of a time when the deserts would flower, the mountains would run with wine, weeping would cease and people could go to sleep without weapons on their laps.

If in the Fall the right relationship of humankind to God, ourselves, one another, and the natural world were all fractured, then shalom is the mending of each of those relationships. It is union with God, psychological peace, harmony with our fellow men and women, and flourishing in the natural world. As Plantinga writes:

People would work in peace and work to fruitful effect. Lambs could lie down with lions. All nature would be fruitful, benign, and filled with wonder upon wonder; all humans would be knit together in brotherhood and sisterhood; and all nature and all humans would look to God, walk with God, lean toward God and delight in God. Shouts of joy and recognition would well up from valleys and seas, from women in streets and from men on ships.

… In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness and delight – a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be.

 

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