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Sin and Shalom in the inner-city

Living in the inner-city of Memphis I've come to grow accustomed, almost numb, to the amount of violence, strife, sin and problems associated with our neighborhood. But this came out of nowhere. It was not even remotely anticipated.

My next door neighbor was recently arrested for raping 2 teenagers. The 2 girls live in a neighborhood not far from the suburban church where I work.

It's been a hard week for a lot of people. It came as a complete shock to all of us.

Not to mention all of the lives that have been shattered. The lives of the girls. The lives of those who know and love them. The lives of those around the accused rapist... his wife, his neighbors, his family, his friends. It's a sad, sad story all around.

And nobody wins. Nobody.

Cornelius Plantinga, Jr, professor of theology at Calvin Theological Seminary, has written an important article about Sin. He argues that sin destroys... it upsets... it disturbs... it mangles the way things should be, the way things ought to be. He then goes on to talk about this 'ought to be', this shalom, in this way:
The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight is, of course, what the Hebrew prophets call shalom. We call it peace, but it means far more than just peace of mind or cease-fire between enemies. In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight, in which natural needs are satisfied, natural gifts fruitfully employed - the whole process inspiring joyful wonder as the creator and savior of all opens doors and speaks welcome. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be. ("Not the Way It's S'pposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin" in Theology Today, vol 50, No 2 - Jul 1993:182)
I'm thinking a lot about what Shalom looks like in this context. So I will end with these questions:

What does it look like for this community to flourish? For wholeness to be a norm and not the exception? How can we encourage a web, a tapestry, of fulfillment and delight in a community that seems to full of such blight? How can we, by God's grace, restore what has been broken and destroyed?

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