Today is International Peace Day. All over the world, people are thinking about peace, talking about peace, and working for peace. One of the goals of the day is that there be a day where there is no fighting anywhere in the world. Sort of a global cease fire. In the school where I work, students and teachers were asked what "peace" meant to them. Most of the answers including things like not fighting, no conflict, or treating others kindly. It is all of those things, but peace is also so much more. There is something which underlies all of those ideas. It is the idea of shalom.
The Hebrew word shalom means peace. It is also used as a greeting and a farewell. Shalom means more than just "peace," more than just the absences of conflict. The word means wholeness, health, completeness, rest, and harmony. It is a concept that most don't really understand because there is so little wholeness, health, rest or harmony in the world. Every day there is news of conflict somewhere in the world, or crimes committed against property or persons. Much of what passes for political speech is nothing more than arguing and trying to prove how evil the other side is. Even in churches, there is not the shalom that should be there.
Jesus is described in Scripture as the Sar shalom, Prince of Peace. It is in Jesus that true shalom is found. He is the one who brings wholeness, who gives health. It is Jesus who completes us, who gives us rest. Only Jesus brings harmony as he reconciles us with God, and reconciles us with each other. Unfortunately, the world looks at those who claim to follow the Prince of Peace and sees division, arguing and fighting, and sometimes hatred. This should not be. We are told in 1 Peter 3:15 to be always ready to give an answer to those who want to know about the hope we have in us. I believe that means more than just telling people how they can go to heaven when they die. A large part of that hope is the shalom that we have in Jesus. We have something that the world is desperate for. Our problem is that we don't realize what we have. We don't realize that in Christ we are whole, we are complete, we are at rest, we are reconciled. If we can grasp that truth and let the Spirit form Christ in us, we can live in shalom. We can live in a way that is truly counter-cultural. We can exhibit the kind of hope that causes others to ask.
"May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace." (Numbers 6:24-26 NLT)
From my opportunity to teach in our gathering this morning:
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