The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr once said, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” I suggest that the arc of the entire universe – moral, spiritual, physical, and commercial – is long, but it bends towards Shalom.
This is difficult for most of us to believe. We are confronted daily with the sins, wounds, and depravity of our broken world – terrorists, human sex trafficking, hunger, climate change, the list goes on and on. It is easy to believe that that the world is going to hell and that our role as spiritually-minded leaders is just to hold on until Christ comes back.
But there is also a lot of evidence that the world is actually getting better. In the book Abundance, Peter Diamandis and Steve Kotler do an amazing job of pointing out the many, many ways in which life has actually improved significantly over the last 200 years. Factfulness has the same punchline. Life expectancy, poverty, literacy, quality of life, and many other macro trends are all trending in the right direction over the last hundred years. And experts expect these trends will not only continue but accelerate. Technological advancements in artificial intelligence, automation, gene sequencing, synthetic biology, solar power, and others are on the cusp of offering unfathomable opportunities and abundance to billions of people.
The reality of two-handed thinking is that both statements are true. The world is getting better and the world is getting worse. If you believe Dr. King (and we all should because he was correct) then we must admit that the reason the arc of the moral universe bends towards justice is because the arc of the entire universe bends towards shalom. Shalom is the way the world was created to be in the garden before the fall, and shalom is how the new heavens and the new earth will be for all eternity. We are stuck in the middle between these two paradises, wrestling daily with a broken world. But if Shalom is the way things ought to be, then shalom is how things once were and how they will be again.
In theological circles, this perspective is often called the “Creation-Fall-Redemption-Restoration” worldview. Tim Keller and others have written extensively on this important subject. Believe it or not, this philosophical/theological discussion actually has some very practical applications for missionally motivated entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think. By Peter Diamandis & Steve Kotler
Factfulness. By Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, and Anna Rosling Ronnlund
Every Good Endeavor. By Tim Keller & Katherine Alsdorf