I wrote in the previous post that shalom is God’s vision for us. So what is our mission in relation to the vision that God has given us? I suggest that it is a twofold mission: stewardship and redemption. (I’m riffing here on John Stackhouse’s formulations.)
Our mission of stewardship is in response to two mandates. First, there is the cultural mandate. We were created to be co-regents with God over creation. We are called to exercise dominion … to fill the earth and bring it to its fullness. The cultural mandate includes the establishment and enrichment of human civilization. The biblical narrative begins in a garden and ends in a garden city. The cultural mandate includes both environmental care and economic action.
The second mandate is the Great Commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Here is the core ethical mandate. All that we do in our stewardship and relationships is to be grounded in these two commands. It was true prior to the fall, it will be true in the new creation, and it is true now. Stewardship is the exercise of dominion guided by these ethical commands. It is what we were made for.
Fallen humanity has gone the way of Cain and manufactured worlds that offer illusory meaning apart from God. God is on a mission of redemption to shatter the deception and bring the whole world … all that will come …back into his household. He has chosen us to be messengers and witnesses of his transformative work. We’ve been given two redemption mandates.
First, Jesus says that we are to love one another. The Kingdom of God breaks into the present from the future through communities of people who live according to the reality of the future Kingdom as best they can in the present. That life together gives a living portrait to the rest of world, however imperfect it maybe, of what God envisions. The community gives witness to shalom both in its own life and in its pursuit of shalom for the world through intercession and active engagement.
The second mandate is the Great Commission. We are sent into the world to reveal God’s vision of shalom, invite others into the Kingdom of God through repentance, and enlist them in the lifelong mission of stewardship and redemption.
The challenge for economic reflection is figuring out how this vision and mission translates into to practical ethical guidance for evaluating economic behavior in our time. We turn to that now.