‘On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.If you forgive the sins of anyone, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”’
(John 20: 19-23 NIV)
The disciples have locked themselves up behind closed doors. They are fleeing the world in fear instead of engaging the world in faith, hope and love.
We can be like the disciples, living isolated lives because of our fear of violence, the stranger or the future.
How did Jesus respond to the disciples hiding in fear? How did Jesus respond to those who pretended not to know him, who had run away when he was facing his most difficult moment in life?
Did he say, “Why did you desert me? Where were you? Why are you hiding in fear now? No. He didn’t say that.
In our moments of fear and shame, Jesus kisses us with these words, “Peace be with you. Shalom be with you.” But he doesn’t leave it at that.
After breathing life into them, he sends them out to breathe new life into the world, to bring forgiveness to the world. After showing them his pierced hands and feet he says, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
Having faith in Jesus is personal, but not private. Jesus is looking for a spirit-filled church to be his gift to the world. He wants us to be gifts to each other, and bearers of justice, forgiveness and grace to the world in our everyday lives.
The concept of peace, of shalom, is not about an event or special gathering. Shalom is the way in which the prophets talked about a day when all things would be made right again. Those things that have become corrupt and polluted would be re-made in such a way that it would take our breath away.
Through imagery and story, the prophets painted a picture of how things are supposed to be. People would no longer be looked on as tools and property in the hands of the powerful, but as people made in the very image of God. People would not try to build their own kingdoms in which they rule in their own way, but would gladly be a part of the kingdom of God, letting God be God, so that peace would prevail in the world.
The prophets pictured a world in which the environment that was originally created good would become freed from the curse. They spoke of a place in which people would genuinely love each other. This is the idea of shalom.
Joining Jesus’ Revolution
When we understand that Jesus’ ministry was not just about changing us personally, but changing the entire social and cosmic reality, that his ministry was about announcing and initiating the kingdom of God, then mission and evangelism cannot be reduced to special events, but must relate to everyday life.
God’s future is when the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our Lord (Rev. 11:5). And until that time, in the words of Lesslie Newbigin, the church is to be a sign, foretaste and instrument of God’s coming kingdom.
We are to be witnesses to God’s kingdom, joining him in bringing a greater sense of beauty, justice, reconciliation, mercy and healing to the networks and neighborhoods to which God has sent us. And as we join God in this greater mission, we have the opportunity to invite others to become reconciled with God and join the revolution.
Can you see how following Jesus involves all of our lives?
This post was originally posted as part of a Single Question Interview on missional living. It can be viewed, along with other missional leaders thoughts here.