Seeking Shalom for Spokane
Ephesians 2:11-1

  1. Introduction:

    1. Over the last several years I have been privileged and charged with leading an international church planting group Christian Associates, which has its epicenter in Western Europe. As a result, I found myself traveling a great deal… To the tune of about 180 days a year. And, traveling to places that many people want to go… London, Paris, Segovia, Geneva, Barcelona, Lisbon, Nice, Avignon, Chateauneuf-du-Pape. It almost sounds like a holiday for the rich.

    2. I discovered several things:

      1. One, Traveling is fun…if you don’t have to. I would guess that I was spending about a month a year sitting…in airports, on planes, trains or cars…simply waiting, mostly by myself (a bad idea for an extreme extrovert).

        1. It’s like leaving a puppy in the back yard alone too long. Not fun.

      2. The second thing I learned was more personal: While I still feel called to the nations, my primary calling is to a city…and even more specifically, I feel called to Spokane…

      3. So, after 4 years of traveling, I am, as they say, “Back in the Can.”

    3. I love Spokane (I was born here), I love my city… In fact, I get defensive when people talk bad about it. When people use names like Spo-Compton…or Spo-Vegas…or Spo-klahoma…or Spo-kansas.  I have literally gotten into near altercations over it (BD).  I liken to someone talking about your mother (You know, “Yo Mama…”). I might be able to say something about her, but don’t let me hear you…

      1. I’ve always had tension over my city…trying to get out, but loving it at the same time.

    4. The reason is, if I can lift a line from Dickens, it is a Tale of Two Cities…

      1. There is beauty and growth and thickness of relationship that is irreplaceable.

        1. Our town was voted one of the Happiest places to live in the HuffPost –  

        2. It was also voted one of the best places to live if you love recreational life, by Outside magazine recently – Natural beauty (Near Nature, Near Perfect). I always tell people 52 lakes within 45 min.

        3. There a wonderful music scene (The Bartlett), Art, Education, People growing.

        4. We have 3 pro sports teams, the Chiefs, the Indians, the Zags.

        5. It’s large enough for cool culture, yet small enough for intimacy and accessibility.

        6. It has been amazing that of the literal thousands of college students I have been privileged to pastor…a majority of then say stuff like, “I hate Spokane…” and then want to move back to raise their kids. Spokane is a great place (except in the winter)!!!

      2. There is, however, also incredible pain and brokenness.

        1. Like a few weeks ago, we finally made the front page of almost all national news outlets with the savage murder of Delbert Belton.

        2. Just last Sunday night, there was a murder outside of a Concert venue not far from here.

        3. Depending where we allow ourselves to drive or reside, there is poverty, separation, abuse, etc.

  2. In Ephesians 2, the Apostle Paul identifies this phenomena as well.

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.

    1. When we read this, what words jump out at you?

      1. Notice…Separated, Excluded, Foreigners, Without Hope, and finally Without God in the World.

    2. See, that is not the way God intended His creation to be. You know the story, Creation…glorious, beauty, scandal free…God uses the word “Good” to describe that entire scene!

      1. The concept in the Bible that most describes this goodness is the Hebrew word “shalom.” In English, it is translated, “Peace.” It means a great deal more than a lack of conflict. It encompasses the ideas of wholeness, well-being, prosperity. “It means complete reconciliation, a state of the fullest flourishing in every dimension – physical, emotional, social, and spiritual…” (The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery)

      2. Tim Keller uses the analogy of the human body to describe Shalom.  When we are healthy (particularly, when we are young), you have energy, strength, and beauty, because all the parts of your body are working unity.  But when you are injured, parts of your body may be out of alignment with others. Cancer cells work not with, but against the other systems of the body.  When the parts of your body fail to work interdependently, you experience the loss of physical shalom or well-being (Illustration: Mark McCade and I showing each other our scars).  Emotionally as well. When you experience anxiety, or guilt or a mental disordering you have lost the intended shalom. It even impacts society – when there is crime, poverty, racism, broken homes, there is no shalom. Do you get it? God intended His created order to work a certain way…in Shalom…and any departure from that is a fracture of His intention.

    3. What brought that was called the Fall. Intentional disobedience. The result…brokenness. When sin entered the world, it defaced or marred or bent everything that God created.

      1. Even the planet itself – It groans! – Romans 8:22

      2. The whole world stopped working right.

      3. Because of this fracture of Shalom, we arrive at these concepts that Paul talks about.

  1. In the text though, there is what I would call a Grand Reversal.

    1. Illustration: Big time wrestling

    2. Ephesians 2:14 – “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. 

      1. Two things to notice:

      2. #1 – Christ brings shalom. He encompasses it!

        1. Isaiah 9:6 – Prince of Peace!

      3. #2 – Upshot of man of peace (of “shalom”)—- destroyed something!  What? The thing that separated…

    3. The Reversal

      1. In context, Paul is referring to the separation of Jews and Gentiles, but…it includes much more.

        1. That is why he said in Galatians 3:26-28 – So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

      2. That which was broken is shalomed – gender, race, religion, and nations…even creation.

  2. The question is, what was his plan to bring this about?

    1. This happens through a counter society.

      1. Note what he continues to say, Ephesians 2:15-18 – His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

    2. A New Humanity! What was he referring to?

      1. Please look at – Ephesians 3:10 – His intent (purpose) was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms…”

      2. Allow me to make a quick overarching comment about Ephesians. It was to “y’all” All plurals. Newbigin, “The community of the hermeneutic of the Gospel!” What does that mean? It means that, while God wants to use you individually in the world, His ultimate plan was to use “us,” the community of faith. The Gospel cannot completely or adequately without the church…living it out…displaying it to the world. (John 13:34)

    3. Gerhard Lohfink quote: “It can only be that God begins in a small way, at one single place in the world. There must be a place, visible, tangible, where the salvation of the world can begin: that is, where the world becomes what it is supposed to be according to God’s plan. Beginning at that place, the new thing can spread abroad, but not through persuasion, not through indoctrination, not through violence. Everyone must have the opportunity to come and see. All must have the chance to behold and test this new thing. Then, if they want to, they can allow themselves to be drawn into the history of salvation that God is creating.”

    4. That is why we are here…that is why Joe and I are friends…that is why we start local communities of faith…churches.

  3. Conclusion:

    1. One of my favorite thinkers is a guys named Parker Palmer. Living in the “Tragic Gap” (Irrelevant Idealism or Corrosive Cynicism – both move us out of the Tragic Gap).

      1. Life isn’t just about us being comfortable, or successful, or admired…it is you (us!) joining God in the reestablishment of shalom in His creation…in Spokane!

    2. So WHAT?

    3. In John 20, just as Jesus prepared to issue his mission for his people, and launch the church into the world, it says that he came to the room where they were huddled in fear of persecution and said, “Peace.” Shalom! Wholeness!

      1. That which has been broken, or fractured, or disjointed, or wounded and bent, “be whole!” And that point he said, “As the father has sent me, now I send you.”

    4. The Reverse Jabez Prayer by Ben Katt – “Lord would you shrink my territory so I actually care about the people/place we minister in.” That is where I have come…

    5. Tim Keller quote: To do justice means to go places where the fabric of shalom has broken down, where the weaker members of societies are falling through the fabric, and to repair it.  This happens when we concentrate on and meet the needs of the poor.  How can we do that? The only way to reweave and strengthen the fabric is by weaving yourself into it…human beings are like those threads thrown together onto a table. If we keep our money, time, power to ourselves, for ourselves, instead of sending them out into our neighbors’ lives…we are not interwoven socially, relationally, financially and emotionally.  Reweaving shalom means to sacrificially thread, lace and press your time, goods, power and resources into the lives and needs of others.