Thursday, June 12, 2008

Alaska & Shalom

My wife and I went on an Alaskan cruise last year. This was our first cruise and we wanted to make it a memorable one. Having never even been to Alaska before, I wasn't sure what to expect. People have told us how majestic and pristine it is, but it's hard to imagine what someone is talking about unless you experience it yourself. Well...majestic and pristine are certainly accurate words to describe Alaska, but I think I would also use the word Shalomic. Based on the definition of Shalom that I gave in a previous post Alaska is not technically "shalomic", of course, because the curse still functions within the created order. But, based on the reality of Shalom as:
Universal flourishing, wholeness and delight – a rich state of affairs in which
natural needs ar 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. (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. "Not the Way it's Supposed to Be")
... the "universal flourishing" of God's created order as it exists in "harmonic wholeness" of total integration within itself...well then, I could say that when in Alaska I had the feeling of Shalom. To witness the beauty and granduer of a part of the world that almost seems untouched by human hands is to witness the created order existing almost as if it were still the 7th Day and God was "resting". To witness a portion of creation thriving simply because it is what it is, simply because it is "living" in conformity to its "created nature", is to begin to understand things "...the way they are supposed to be". I felt "shalom" because I experience Shalom--in Christ!

The reality of Shalom in the present world will not exist until Christ returns ushering in the New Heaven and New Earth, when the Created Order will experience its Cosmic redemption. But as those who have been "born again" by the Spirit and have experienced the redemption that is found in Christ, we, who are now Children of God by the New Birth, we now experience the first fruits of the "shalom" to come. Estrangement is gone for the Child of God and we now experience the "peace" that is intimate communion with God, our Father, through Christ. And as those who are joined to Christ by the indwelling Spirit of Christ, we see the world as it really is and by the power of the Spirit, we live as those who really are a part of the New Creation--now!

In Christ the New Creation has come in those who have been (and are continually) transformed by the Spirit. We are New Creations, as Paul tells us, and we are the first fruits of the Shalom to come to the entire Created Order. The lives that we now live, if we live our lives according to the truth of who we are in Christ, testify to the fact that Christ has come and crushed the serpent's head; that Christ as undone the curse and has restored all things to God! We, as God's People, testify to the world and to the Created Order that Christ's work in restoration is finished--all that awaits is the consummation of all things (the "summing up" of all things in Christ) when the "groaning" of creation will be turned to "joy" when it too is finally redeemed at the revealing of the Sons of God at Christ's return!

Shalom has come in the people of God in the Person and Work of Christ; and because of this, we can "taste" shalom in the created order now. We can understand creation properly and our part in it. Remember, we as human beings are not wholly distinct from creation--we are a part of it! And in Christ we can now "see" reality the way it really is; we can now function properly as God's Image-Bearers and stewards of His creation; we can live "rightly" within the created order because we have been restored in our relationship to God, one another and the created order in which we live. Because of the Shalom that exists in us as Children of God in Christ, we now live in this world with the goal and purpose of advancing the "universal flourishing" and "harmonic wholeness" of the created order as we were commisioned to back in the Garden.

Alaska was a great experience for us in a number of ways; but mostly because of the opportunity to "taste" a little bit of the Shalom to come. Now, when listening to "Alaska" by Cactus, don't expect to be transported to the middle of Glacier Bay or to be soothed by the sound of a waterfall splashing at the base of the Mendenhall Glacier; just enjoy one of the best blues songs ever written about Alaska. Of course, it may also be the only one ever written about Alaska--son enjoy!!


Mr. Creep said...

Thanks! It's good to remember that.

April said...

Excellent--yet another reminder that we live by faith, not by sight. Through experiences like Alaska, we are occasionally given glimpses into a future where faith will become sight. By the way, the song is great. :)

The Great Googly Moogly! said...

Thanks April & "Creep". At first I thought you were the April that I knew, then you said the song was now I'm sure I have no idea who you are :-)