Over the years we have often seen God’s salvation on a limited basis, that is, on an individualistic level. The gospel we have preached is about our personal salvation, our personal blessing, and our personnel eternal life in heaven. But now we have come to understand that this isn’t the gospel that God promised to the Hebrew people, and which Jesus came to fulfil.
God’s plan of salvation involves the whole of his created order. When God made mankind, he put man over his creation. When man turned away from God, this whole creation was affected. God has come to restore mankind through the gospel, so the creation man is over may also be restored. This means we now see the gospel on a much more holistic basis. It is “shalom” in the Hebrew, meaning wholeness to our whole communities and world. God is interested, not just in us as individuals, but in our communities. He knows that when our communities are healed, then individuals will have a better life. Communities look after people. When communities are dysfunctional, people suffer.
This brings us back to traditional African culture. Its roots are community orientated. In recent times with Western capitalism, “good news” has often been associated with our increase in personal wellbeing, and this wellbeing is viewed in terms of material opportunities, not in relationships. God views wellness in terms of relationships, with our neighbour and with our enemy. He knows that when we reach out and build bridges with those different to us, and with those others do not like, then community has far better prospects for the future. Forgive and care for others, love and bless your enemies.
Be community builders. Realise that this is how we build a better tomorrow for our children. It isn’t in withdrawing from the world in fundamentalism, or in building walls and trying to protect ourselves from others, that our children will inherit a better world. It is in loving our neighbour, taking this kind of risk, and in providing protection for others, that our children will rise up and call us blessed.
Build a better tomorrow for the wider community. The peace of our smaller community is in the wellbeing of our wider community. (Jeremiah 29:7) This is God’s design for the church in renewing the world: the inner logic of God’s actions in redemption: that peace comes to ourselves as we seek it for others.