On the Path to Shalom: A Missiological Exploration of God’s Intent for the Wholeness of His Creation

Abstract by Boubakar Sanou

In his inaugural sermon, Jesus provides a conceptual framework for understanding wholistic healing by outlining God’s intention for human flourishing (Luke 4:18–19). Firmly rooted in the biblical concept of shalom, his mission statement is perhaps the most comprehensive for understanding the role mission plays in the church’s wholistic healing mandate. Although shalom is most of the time translated as peace, it is not limited to the conventional notion of peace as merely serenity, freedom from feelings of guilt, or the absence of war. Shalom is God’s all-inclusive concern for human wellbeing. Its fundamental meaning includes completeness, soundness, truly fulfilled lives and salvation. It portrays humans as whole beings with intricately intertwined spiritual, physical, emotional and social attributes. The following are all contributing factors to a biblical and missiological perspective on wholistic healing: (1) caring for the poor, the widows and the orphans; (2) building schools and hospitals, digging wells; (3) mediating peace and reconciliation; (4) standing up against racism, sexism, human trafficking, domestic violence and other forms of exploitation and discrimination; (5) promoting diversity, equity and inclusion; (6) ecological stewardship; and (7) discipling the nations. Because shalom communicates the sense of human overall flourishing in which spiritual, physical, emotional, social and environmental health are overlapping and interconnected, this paper argues that there can be no wholistic healing outside of a synergetic relationship of humans with God, each other and their environment. Since the church is the outpost of God’s kingdom on earth, shalom should characterize its raison d’être.