Shalom: The Forceful Goodness In-Between
Dear Kaleid Ladies,
Hello! Happy Wednesday! For the next few weeks, we are sharing a few quotes from our summer book: The Very Good Gospel. In the spirit of simplicity, we are offering you a quote or two, inviting you to consider the depth and breadth of the goodness of the gospel.
Last week we shared Lisa Sharon Harper’s thesis that, “The biblical gospel writers’ good news was about the restoration of shalom.” So, what is shalom?
Harper paints a picture by taking her readers back to Genesis 1, back to God’s original, unsullied, shalom-filled expression of creation. She writes:
“At the end of the sixth day, the writers declare, ‘God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good [tov me’od]. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.’ (Genesis 1:31).
Tov is the Hebrew word for ‘good,’ but the word does not refer only to the goodness of the object itself; it also refers to the ties between things. In the Hebrew conception of the world, all of creation is connected. The well-being of the whole depends on the well-being of each individual part. The Hebrews’ conception of goodness was different than the Greeks’. The Greeks located perfection within the object itself. A thing or person strove toward perfection. Bu the Hebrews understood goodness to be located between things. As a result, the original hearers would have understood tov to refer to the goodness of the ties and relationships between things in creation.
Me’od is an adjective that means ‘forceful’ or ‘vehement’…tov appears six times previously in this text. Here, the seventh time it is used, the word describes God’s creation, and the writers add the emphatic adjective me’od. In Hebrew culture, the numbers seven and ten symbolize perfection. The fact that the writers add me’od on the seventh occurrence of the word is significant…this usage indicates the writers are communicating the completeness and perfect interconnectedness of the web of creation. It is tov me’od because all the relationships between things overflow with goodness!” (p. 31)
And so (after exploring Genesis 1-3) Harper concludes that shalom is “an intimate vision of a genuine love relationship between God and humanity, and that relationship is interconnected with all other relationships in creation.” (43)
It is this vision that forms the basis for the very good gospel that Jesus preaches. If you want to spend time with Jesus catching a vision for the forceful goodness of relationships within creation that He came to restore, take a few minutes to read Matthew 8-9. Wonder at the ways Jesus restores the very good (tov me’od) relational interconnectedness of all creation.
The Kaleid Team
P.S. You’re welcome to join us for our second meeting of our book club on The Very Good Gospel if you’d like! Register here.
And, would you like to spend time with kids at a summer camp in Clarkston the week of July 10th? Kaleid is once again gathering a group of volunteers to assist at a Friends of Refugees summer camp. Email Elise if you are interested in learning more or helping out!
Finally, if you’d like some resources about Junteenth, Be the Bridge provided this list yesterday, and we wanted to pass it along:
Juneteenth: Faith & Freedom documentary from Our Daily Bread Voices Collection
Why is Juneteenth Important? video from Jude 3 Project
Juneteenth 10 Day Reading Plan from Our Daily Bread