The environment that you’re living in today was not the environment that existed when God created the world. The environment that you’ll one day exist in won’t be the same environment that you’re living in today.
Another way of saying that is: when Adam and Eve rebelled against God, Shalom was shattered, and when Jesus returns, Shalom will be fully restored.
What is Shalom? In short, it means “peace.” But peace is only a portion of the definition. Shalom could better be described as complete harmony, or the absence of any discord.
While God is the only One who can bring Shalom to full completion, He invites His children to participate in the restoration process. What does our participation look like? I want to open to Revelation 21 and look at 5 ways you can approach your everyday ministry life:
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making ALL all things new.” (21:5, emphasis mine)
Where has Shalom been shattered? Everywhere! In some way, every element of life has been twisted. That doesn’t mean that everything is as bad as it could be; it means that nothing has escaped the touch of sin’s corruption.
As such, Christians should be the most engaged community on earth. We need to remember God’s relentless and comprehensive plan, and we need to pursue ways to provide hope and healing in the name of Jesus.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” (21:3)
As I was writing this Article, I realized that I couldn’t accurately capture the stunning beauty of this verse. I’m not going to try, apart from this: meditate on the magnificence of the name Emmanuel: “God with us.”
What does that have to do with your participation? You’ve been called to incarnate His presence. You’re the tone of His voice; you’re the look on His face; you’re the touch of His hand, you’re His mercy; you’re His compassion; you’re His grace; you’re His faithfulness; you’re His love.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (21:4)
You know that life is painful. Maybe you’ve experienced deep devastation yourself, or you’re close to someone who has. In the absence of Shalom, there’ll be an abundance of tears, mourning, pain, and death.
As you participate in restoration, you should care as your Lord cares about the human condition. You should care about suffering of every kind. You should care about sexual exploitation, homelessness, hunger, disease, and racism. As long as people are in those conditions, you should not be satisfied.
And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.” (21:6)
The epicenter of Christianity is an awesome gift, one that we can never earn, deserve, or achieve. Because of that, we ought to be marked by extreme humility. Sadly, I don’t think that’s what the Christian community is known for.
You should stand next to the most broken, lost, and rebellious sinner and look at them with eyes of grace because you know that, apart from God’s grace, you’re much more like them than unlike them. We need to be a community where grace and forgiveness and acceptance is freely offered.
The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (21:7)
If there was ever a group of people who, in the face of opposition, had a reason to continue, it’s Christians. We know where the story is going. We’ve read the last chapter first, and we know the end of the story is absolutely guaranteed.
We don’t have to relent in the face of misunderstanding or difficulty. Like Christ when He was threatened, we don’t have to utter threats; we can commit ourselves to our Heavenly Father who judges all things justly. We’ll step forward in faith and courage until there’s is no more restoration to be done.
A FINAL WARNING
It’s my hope that you’ll be motivated by Revelation 21 to continue in everyday ministry. But I can’t just leave with you motivation; I need to warn you.
If you haven’t noticed, your heart has also been twisted by sin. Sin will make you think that you’re the most important person in the universe. You’re at risk of becoming so self-centered that you no longer have the eyes to see the need for ministry or time in your life to commit to restoration.
But here’s the Gospel: God isn’t just restoring your environment and your community; He’s in the process of restoring you. Soften your heart and let Emmanuel make you an instrument in His hand.