Shalom / Easter Week 3

Bible Passage:

Big Idea of Message:

You cannot fulfill God’s mission using the world’s methods.


Who are the best villains of all time?

Some people love villains. Seth loves villains. I never really got that – except for Thanos. Villains typically have the same thing in common. They are sooo close to getting it right. Killmonger wanted to bring Black excellence into the world (good mission) but he wanted to do it by oppressing every other race (bad methods). Darth Vadar wanted to protect the people he loved and bring order to the galaxy (good mission) but he tried to do it by blowing up planets and force choking people that didn’t want it that way (bad methods). Thanos! All-time villain. He wanted there to be enough food for everyone to enjoy (great mission) but he tried to do it by killing half the population (bad method).

All of us have been called to a great mission.

You have been called by God to bring shalom.


What is shalom? Shalom is the Hebrew word for peace. But peace being not the absence of conflict, but the joining together of God, humanity, and all creation in justice, fulfillment and goodness. And that – is a great mission. In fact, it’s The Mission.

However, sometimes our methods can compromise the calling.

If you just asked if people were for the last three things in shalom – justice, fulfillment, and goodness – I don’t think you could find someone to say no.

Justice. Of course people want justice. You ask any group in the world and they want justice to happen and exist in their community. But how often have you seen in the news, or even your home, someone trying to bring their vision of justice through horrifying methods?

Fulfillment. Everyone wants to be fulfilled in what they do, they want to achieve a fulfilling life. But how often do you see someone pursue fulfillment from the very thing that leaves them feeling empty?

Goodness. I don’t think anyone will say they are anti-goodness. But the way people try to bring about goodness can compromise goodness all together.

So, there is this tension here. We are called by God to bring shalom. To join together God, humanity, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and goodness. But our methods matter.

All throughout human history, there has been this tension between methods of God and the methods of the world. God lays out the way to achieve shalom. And the world says something else entirely.

The way of God – the way of Jesus – tells us to take care of those who can’t take care of themselves. He is calling us to forgive, to show mercy to all people. He tells us to bring in all the people the world says are left out.

The way of the world is the opposite. The world tells you to take care of yourself. The world says we should cancel people when they say something painful to us. Cut them out of our lives. The world tells us to keep them out in order to protect yourself.

The world asks you to willingly sacrifice others in order to sustain your own obsessions.

One of the easiest ways to know if we are accurately representing God’s Kingdom is by seeing where we place the least, the last, the lost. If they are the center of the community, being cared for and honored, then we’re on the right track. But if they aren’t, if they are on the margins, or the outskirts, and they’re often overlooked, forgotten, or devalued, then we are missing the mark. In that instance, we are actually more like the world than we are like Gods’ Kingdom.

And this tension between God and the world has been going on all throughout history.

In the book of Exodus, there is a battle between God and Egypt. Egypt says the way to bring order to chaos is by ruling over others. It’s by wielding your power, and showing you have all the strength. And God is trying to show His people that order comes from caring for the orphan, the alien, the widow.

In the history of Israel, God was constantly trying to show His people that caring for the disadvantaged was the way to bring order to chaos. But His people continued to choose power. They were tempted by the ways of the world like wealth, power, and everything else that comes with it.

In Jesus’ day, He physically showed people how to live out shalom. He is the way we are supposed to follow. But the world rejected and killed him. And it seemed like, at this point in the story, the way of the world just…. wins.

If caring for the disadvantaged in such an extreme way gets you killed, then why on earth would we ever try to follow Jesus’ way of bringing shalom? If His way brings you pain, if His way makes you lose friends and family, if His way costs you your life, why wouldn’t you just try out the world’s way?

Well, it is because of the very fact that Jesus didn’t stay dead that His method of bringing shalom is true. It is because He rose from the grave and defeated death that we can trust His methods of bringing shalom. Because if He didn’t rise from the dead, then all those questions and conclusions are valid. Why wouldn’t I just bring peace to my own life, and try to keep what’s mine? Without His resurrection, then none of this would matter.

1st Corinthians 15:13-14

13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is in vain, and so is your faith.

Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2020), 1 Co 15:13–14.

1st Corinthians 15:13-14

For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. NLT

But, since Christ did rise from the dead, we know His life wasn’t in vain. And we know His methods are the way in which we bring shalom.

1st Corinthians 15:54-58

54 When this corruptible body is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: Death has been swallowed up in victory. 55 Where, death, is your victory? Where, death, is your sting? 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2020), 1 Co 15:50–58.

1st Corinthians 15:54-58

Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. NLT

Nothing we do in God’s name is useless. He is the way and our mission is to bring shalom to this earth. Know this:

You cannot fulfill God’s mission using the world’s methods.

You cannot bring peace, fulfillment, justice, and goodness using the methods of empire, of oppression, and of selfishness.


Why do you think it’s so tempting to use the world’s methods?

What would it look like for you to begin putting your focus on serving the least, the last, and the lost in your community?

When you pursue shalom, and the world pushes back, how do you respond?


When you pursue shalom, and the world pushes back, how do you respond?

There’s this story in the Bible. When the early Church was in this pickle, they realized they weren’t feeding the widows in need as much as they should be. So, they assembled a group of people whose specific job was to help this problem. One of them was named Stephen.

And this was Stephen’s call. This is right where he belongs in the Kingdom of God. Luke writes about him performing amazing acts as he is fulfilling this piece of shalom for his community.

But, like always, the world pushed back. In this instance, the push back is in the form of the religious leaders in the community. Everyone was upset that Stephen was doing this in the name of Jesus – so much so that they arrested him and sent him to court.

So he appears in court in front of this group called the Sanhedrin. This was like Jewish Supreme Court. They will condemn, or show mercy, to those people accused of breaking Jewish law. And these were the same people that condemned Jesus to death.

Stephen stands before them, and instead of proclaiming his innocence, he calls each of them out. He gives them this long sermon, illustrating the history of the prophets in Israel who have been persecuted and ends by saying this:

Acts 7:51-53

“You stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are always resisting the Holy Spirit. As your ancestors did, you do also. 52 Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They even killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become. 53 You received the law under the direction of angels and yet have not kept it.”

Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2020), Ac 7:51–53.

The next verse talks about their response. And this is the world lashing out a shalom:

Acts 7:54, 57-58

54 When they heard these things, they were enraged and gnashed their teeth at him…… 57 They yelled at the top of their voices, covered their ears, and together rushed against him. 58 They dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. And the witnesses laid their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.

Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2020), Ac 7:54–58.

This is how the world pushed back on Stephen bringing shalom – they dragged him into the street, and beat him to death with rocks.

So how are we supposed to respond to the world when it uses its own methods against us? Acts 7:59-60 gives us the answer.

Acts 7:59-60

While they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60 He knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” And after saying this, he fell asleep.

Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2020), Ac 7:59–60.

You cannot fulfill God’s mission using the world’s methods.

In his dying words, he did not curse these people even though they were guilty. He did not condemn them further, even after they had done wrong. He pleaded for their forgiveness. In his final moments, Stephen answered the world’s violence with God’s purpose – shalom. In the end, he never sacrificed his mission to repay the world for it’s evil.

You cannot fulfill God’s mission using the world’s methods.

Are you pursuing the ways of the world? Or are you following the ways of the Kingdom of God?

How do you respond when the world pushes back on your efforts to fulfill God’s mission?

Do you have the kind of faith that pursues shalom, knowing it’s right even when the world pushes back?

Let’s pray.