Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good
Amy L. Sherman
Part One takes a look at the tsaddiqm introduced in the introduction.
Imagine a building company. A company that doesn't lay staff off through the boom and bust cycles that most building businesses go through. A company that has integrity - they would never knowingly lie to anyone. A company that has a servant-style management style. A company that treats its employees compassionately. A company that builds large pavements/ sidewalks, large common spaces and large front porches on the houses it builds. A company that builds energy-efficient houses. A company that offers a diverse range of houses with prices ranging from $150 000 - $350 000, where singles, retireds and families can live in community. Such a company would certainly bless the city. Such is a tsaddiqm company - one such company was founded by Perry Bigelow of Bigelow Homes of Chicago.
This is one of the many illustrations that Sherman provides. This is no mere theory book. It is full of practical examples of ways in which Christians have made a difference, ways in which they have demonstrated being tsaddiq.
Chapter 1 opens by looking at what a rejoiced city might look like. To do this she examines the concepts of justice and shalom. These both involve a number of relationships - they include peace with God, self, others and the creation. She looks at a number of 'preview passages', passages which hint of the not yet of the kingdom been manifested in the now.
I would have liked to have seen the concept of the 'now' and the 'not yet' of the kingdom unpacked a little more and some discussion on the nature of the kingdom; can we bring in or extend, advance or establish the kingdom?
Chapter 2 examines 'the righteous' and what they might look like. She uses three directions to help see the different aspects: Up, in and out. Up is the vertical dimension of righteousness, our worship and dependence upon God; in, the internal personal holiness; and out, the emphasis on social justice. All three are necessary and important.
Chapter 3 focuses on reasons why we fall short of this tsaddiqm. She sees the main culprit as being a narrow gospel. She takes to task the bridge diagram portrayal of the gospel as being illustrative of this. The emphasis is on 'me and Jesus' being in a right relationship.
This is obviously true, but it is not the whole truth of the gospel. Another symptom she sees is the banal contemporary Christian music (CCM) which promotes 'fortification' rather than 'engagement'. Inadequate discipleship and inadequate views of heaven are also to blame. To these I'd also want to add that the lack of a Christian worldview, which means that Gnostic and dualistic tendencies have been inherited without thought from the Greeks.
The final chapter in part 1 attempts to address some of the deficiencies. She uses James Chong's four circles as a better illustration of the gospel than the bridge illustration.
It is by grasping the full implications and import of the gospel of the kingdom that we can 'partner with God in his work of restoring all things' (p. 87).