Monday, November 30, 2015

The Progress of Shalom

Without exception, everyone has done wrong before God and become offensive to Him.  But we all have been given the opportunity to be right before God through the deliverance from the slavery to sin and death which can be found in the Messiah Jesus.  When the Father raised Jesus from an official execution, he showed him to be the path to be forgiven of our sins and to have a relationship with God.  God proved his justice—which was called into question by him overlooking sins in the past and because of his patience—by making acceptable the one who enters into the devotion of Jesus, and so He proved his actions just….Jesus was given to the authorities to be punished because of our wrongs before God and Jesus was raised from his execution so that we could be made acceptable before God.  Therefore, since we have been made acceptable by committed devotion, we have the shalom of God through our King, Messiah Jesus.  It is because of Him that we have the right to speak to God and receive the blessings of God, on which we depend on for our very well-being.  We boast in our confidence in being a part of God’s glory.  You see, we can boast in the sufferings we receive—even as Jesus did—because we know that our suffering gives us the opportunity to stick with God.  And sticking with God in the midst of suffering—even as Jesus did— is the test of our true devotion to God.  And if our devotion is tested, then we have confidence—because if Jesus was raised by His enduring devotion, so will we.  And this confidence will never be dashed because God’s love fills us through the Holy Spirit, given by God, to help us endure in the midst of our struggles. (Romans 3:23-26; 4:25-5:5)

Got World Peace?
Peace, according to the Bible is not just an absence of violence or a peaceful, easy feeling, but it is well-being in a community.  When the Bible promises “peace on earth to those obtaining grace”, it is not speaking of a lack of war, but of a ruling principle and nation who would provide for all in need and offer justice and peace to everyone, without exclusion.  This well-being and justice is called “shalom” in the Bible.

Stuck With Whirled Peas?
If there is one thing the world lacks, it is peace, meaning shalom.  If shalom is a world-wide community in which everyone experiences well-being, acceptance, mutual assistance, and equal justice for all, then we have never experienced it.  In every nation, in every era, the poor have been oppressed. The outcast have been thrown out because of arbitrary cultural mores.  The religious have judged and rejected all people who did not accept their narrow guidelines.  The non-religious have judged and rejected the religious because of their devotion to God.  And all people purpose to harm all people who stand in the way of their culture controlling and manipulating all others. 

Life on earth is not shalom.  It is anti-peace.

Everyone wants peace.  Most of us in the world recognize that we are all in trouble, that we don’t have peace, and all of us want to obtain it.  Or create it.  Or force it on others.  To create shalom where there is no shalom is what the Bible calls “salvation.”  Frankly, it is a utopian ideal, just like democracy is, just like capitalism is, just like communism.  The difference is that the Bible claims that salvation—the creation of shalom in the world—is something that only God can do.  Peace and justice cannot come simply from human effort or from anarchy.  It must be a work of God that humans join with.  But it is initiated by God.

Getting Better All The Time
The first step of God’s shalom-making was creation.  God saw the chaos, the pointlessness of the world and made it again.  And, according to Scripture, after God’s peace-making, He established humanity to rule over His creation and to keep it in shalom.  This plan failed when humanity chose rebellion and chaos instead of God’s shalom.

Another step in God’s shalom-making was choosing Abraham.  Abraham was not a perfect man, but he was a person who sought God alone, being faithful to Him, and trusting in Him when all else seemed chaotic.  God chose Abraham because of his trust in God and said that whoever would obtain shalom, in all the world, they must be like Abraham and choose his path of trust.  This plan failed because people thought that following the ritual of Abraham or being born into the family of Abraham obtained this shalom.

Another step in God’s shalom-making was to create a community of shalom with very specific rules.  He chose for His people a nation in slavery—the outcast—so they would know how to treat those who were outcast.  And He taught them His ways of love and shalom for all his people.  This experiment failed in different ways, over the years.  First, the people didn’t believe that God could really give them shalom.  Then, they sought out other spiritual powers to grant them shalom.  Then, they oppressed the poor, forgetting that they were once poor themselves.  And finally, they took God’s rules and make them so burdensome that it became impossible to live them out.

Love Reign O’er Me
Finally, after all of these temporary experiments, God began his final plan for shalom.  He sent his Son to be emperor of the world, ruler of his people.  First, Jesus displayed shalom by setting people free from spiritual judgment, offering them freedom from diseases and mental illnesses and offering them a new life in God.  Then he told the people the life of shalom in God, living by the principles of shalom.  Then, finally, he allowed the rulers of God’s people—the priests and elders—to kill him, treating him as an outcast of God’s people.  But God vindicated his Son as the only way to God’s shalom, the great Truth-teller.  And a new people was created under Jesus, living Jesus’ shalom-principles and testing the world with their message of destruction of the anti-shalom and the establishment of God’s shalom.

Underground Revolution
Through Jesus, God is continually creating communities of shalom—some big and some small.  These communities are made up of those who were rejected by the world and who are baptized in Jesus—namely, those who have committed themselves to being citizens of Jesus’ new nation of shalom.  These baptized are committed to Jesus’ principles of peace and justice.  But these principles are not enough in and of themselves, because we all are too weak, as humans, to maintain shalom.  So the Emperor has allowed us to receive the Holy Spirit, who helps us in our weakness to maintain shalom, even when we do not have the strength to live it out. 

            Then God sent these Jesus communities out into the world.  They preached the kingdom— the nation of shalom—and displayed the power of the Spirit.  Communities were in this way tested—would they accept the good proclamation of shalom through Jesus, or would they reject God’s shalom?  Would they practice shalom with the needy of Jesus, or would they reject them?

This time of testing continues on even today.  Many communities of the world—even many who claim Jesus to be Lord—reject Jesus’ principles of shalom.  Many in Jesus’ name harm and kill others.  Many in Jesus’ name refuse to help the needy.  Many in Jesus’ name even reject the true God and seek a distant Spirit who is unobtrusive and will never give anything, let alone shalom.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Recommendations for Your Holiday Meal

When you host a feast this Thanksgiving or Christmas, don't invite your friends or family. They will expect to do the dishes, or to bring something, or invite you back to their place next year. Instead, invite the homeless, the refugees, those in nursing homes, the mentally ill, because the only reward you could expect then would be from God.

And when you go to a feast, don't boast about all the things you did this last year, your great accomplishments, and don't expect to be honored. If you insist upon yourself, you will be a boor, and everyone will ignore you and try to interrupt you. Instead, sit in the corner and say nothing. Then your host will note your silence and ask you, "What do you have to be thankful for this year?" and you will be given honor.

Don't demand respect, or else you will be rejected. Be humble and you will be given greater respect.


(Luke 14:8-14)

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Practice of Shalom

Because of God’s tremendous compassion for everyone, I beg you, my dear family, to put your congregations on the altar, as a still living but holy sacrifice to God.  This is what is acceptable to God, your sincere act of loving devotion among your congregation.  Don’t be formed by the thinking of this era—that of stereotypes and judgment— but be re-created, having your minds rebooted to the will of God, and so proving by your actions what the good and pleasing and complete will of God is.  I was given a message from the Lord to share with all of you: Don’t consider yourself to be better than others in everything.  Be sensible, and admit that each one of you has granted each one of you a measure of faith, even if that faith looks differently….Our congregations are to be characterized by sincere love for one another.  We are all to be rid of the evil in our congregations, but to grasp onto the good.  We are to have affectionate love for each other.  We are to be diligent without procrastination.  We are to be enthusiastic in character.  We serve the Lord.  We rejoice in hope.  We endure in suffering.  We persist in prayer.  We are to give to the needs of the saints.  We are to practice hospitality.  As the representatives of Jesus, you know already that we are to bless those who persecute us—we speak well of them and do not verbally destroy them.  As Jesus, we rejoice with the joyful and mourn with the weeping.  Well, this is how we should behave to other groups of Christians, as well as those outside the faith.  We aren’t to be arrogant over other Christians, but we are to associate with the lowly and the weak among us.  Don’t be self-important.  Just because you’ve got the money, don’t think that you can tell the others what to do.  Just because you’ve got the word of God, that doesn’t mean that you can order others around.  Just because you’ve proven your faith, it doesn’t mean that everyone has to listen to your opinions.  Nor does it give anyone the right to attack others, no matter what they’ve done to you.  If someone does something evil to you, don’t act immorally back to them.  Instead, spend time thinking ahead of time about how you can do good to everyone.  With all of your ability, live in peace and community with ALL people—even fellow Christians who disagree with you. 

We Got to Start Somewhere, But There’s Just So Far To Go
What can we do?  We live in a world rejecting shalom, pursuing materialism, sexual gratification and false philosophies and calling it happiness.  In the midst of their self- authentication, self-actualization and self-gratification, the people of the world has destroyed well-being for others around them.  The world ignores the needs of those around them, they avoid thinking of the harm they have caused others and they do all they can to shore up their hope that someday, somehow, their lives will be okay.
This wouldn’t be so bad if the church was really any different.  Instead, we live in a church that has bought what the world had to say about truth and joy for 1800 years.  The church flies on a pendulum which swings from a drive to punish all those irresponsible and filled with self-interest to being wholly accepting and supporting people even in their drive to destroy themselves and others.
The answer to this is the shalom of Jesus.  Jesus calls us to communities of shalom—a disciplined grace which leads to peace on earth.  But how can we—when all the governments and churches and non-profits in the world have failed—succeed in creating peace where only chaos and hatred has reigned?

Creating Shalom
  1. Understand our baptism
First, we must understand what it means to be a follower of Jesus.  To be baptized is to die, to have our old life, with its philosophies and materialism cast aside, no longer living in it.  And we must live the principles of Jesus.  Jesus is faithful, and we can live in that faithfulness.  We must realize that being a follower of Jesus isn’t a matter of belief, but of lifestyle.  So we must pursue Jesus—the real Jesus as presented in the gospels—surrender our lives and live for Him.

  1. Live the principles of shalom
Then, as Jesus teaches us, we understand more and more the principles of peace that he taught us.  We will learn his principles of purity, of faithfulness, of devotion to God and love of others.  In all this, we will become more like the people who can create shalom in the world because we will embody shalom.

  1. Accept the Anawim
As we learn Jesus’ way, we find that so many of the world’s categories no longer apply.  Those which the world rejects—even for good reason!—we will welcome and offer God’s love and peace.  Those who are blamed because of their poverty we will receive and share with.  Those who are hated we will love and offer hope and community through Jesus.

  1. Join a community of shalom
It is not enough for us to enact shalom as individuals, we must be in a community of shalom.  This means participating in a group of baptized faithful in Jesus who are allowing God to transform them into shalom-makers.  This must be a community welcoming to the outcast and a community ready to participate in koinonia

  1. Speak prophetically
As we live out Jesus’ life and community of shalom, then we must share with others the principles of shalom as we live them out.  We cannot speak them if we do not live them, but we must share what Jesus has taught us and we do live out.  We do not speak this in order to judge others, but in reality to warn them of Jesus’ judgment against those who oppose shalom.

  1. Live in trust and patience
It is easy to get discouraged.  We can look at the world and see what a big task it is to transform it.  We can look at the church and see how faithless and fear-peddling it is.  We can look at our failures to live out shalom, and throw up our hands in despair.  But this is where the faith of Abraham (and of Jesus) comes in.  Abraham, despite his own failures and weaknesses, despite the impossibilities of the promise God gave him, Abraham trusted that God could and would do it.  He never forsook God, but continued in patience, even as he suffered for those who suffered due to their rejection of shalom.  Even so, when it looks like all has failed and God is no where to be found, we need to be patient, and give room for God to work in His own time.

  1. Pray for God’s shalom

Finally, Jesus tells us to pray for God’s kingdom to come, for the shalom to happen on earth.  Ultimately, if peace and justice are to rule the earth, if shalom is to break into anyone’s life, it must be done by God’s work.  If that is the case, then our main task is that of asking God to cause shalom to come.  Pray for others, that they may experience God’s full shalom.  Pray for the church, that they may understand and live out God’s full shalom.  And pray for the world that it might be transformed into God’s kingdom.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Principles of Shalom

So if there’s anyone listening, let me say this to you:  Have compassion on the bad guys of your life.  Be nice to the mean ones.  Answer well those who cuss you out.  Pray blessings on those who insult and abuse you.  If a cop pushes you, give him the opportunity to beat you up.  If a creditor steals money from you, offer him the rest of your account.  If the government demands something from you, give it freely.  And if a cop steals what is yours, don’t demand it back.  In whatever good way you want people to treat you, treat them that way, no matter how badly treat you. 
            Look, if you only feel good about those who feel good about you, do you think God will bless you for that?  Everyone, no matter how bad they are, love those who love them.  If you do good things only to those who do good to you, do you think God will bless you for that?  Everyone, no matter how evil, does the same.  If you loan out money only to people who will pay you back, do you think God will bless you for that?  Evil people loan out money for a return, plus interest. 
            You can do better than that.  Love the people you find most unlovable.  Act with compassion toward them and lend them money—yes, I know you won’t get the money back.  Just do it, knowing that you won’t get anything back for it, not even a thanks.  But you will get more back than you would ever expect, but that from God.  If you do this, you will be acting like God, the Lord of the Universe—because He, too, does compassionate acts for those who never thank Him and who do the very worst acts on earth.  So be compassionate to the same extent God is.
            Don’t condemn others and you won’t be condemned by God.  Don’t punish for punishment’s sake and you won’t be punished by God, either.  If you release someone from a grudge, God will release you.  Give freely to those in need—no matter who they are—and God will give freely to you.  It’s kinda like a keg party.  Take, let’s say a third of keg of beer and give it to your friends.  They will take it, shake it up until it fills the keg and then pour it all over you—much more than you gave them!  Even so, the amount of compassion you give to those who don’t deserve it will be poured right back on you!
Luke 6:25-38, SKV

Jesus is the Prince of shalom, the emperor through which peace and justice comes.  Not only does he bring it physically, among his people, but Jesus also has given some principles upon which shalom can be built among his people. 

Jesus didn’t come to deliver individuals into shalom, but to create a nation of shalom.  We cannot see the grace of God as only visiting individuals, but God is creating a community through Jesus who will be able to make a community of peace and justice among themselves.

Be ready
The people of God are to keep one eye on this world and one eye on the world that is to come.  The meeting point between these two worlds is the judgment of God.  Those who showed themselves faithful to Jesus and God will be delivered into God’s kingdom of shalom.  So to be ready, we must follow the other principles of shalom to show that we are ready to be a part of God’s shalom.

The first principle of life is faithfulness to God.  If we live with our eyes on God, always concerned with our faithfulness and devotion to Him in all aspects of our lives, then we will be ready to experience God’s shalom, instead of the shalom of the world.  We also maintain faithfulness to others—our spouses, friends, family and all others.  Whatever promises or commitments we have made to them, in our relationship with them, we keep.

Do not harm
We make a point not to do anything hateful to another, with a purpose to harm them.  No matter what they have done to us, we do not do harm in return.  This may put us in a position of vulnerability, but we must trust that God will care for us and avenge us when necessary, not taking such actions on ourselves.

Treating others with respect
Some we are obligated to respect—our betters, our leaders.  But we are also to respect those whom the world does not respect, the outcast and shamed.  If we provide respect to all, then all will receive welcome and hope and shalom.

Meeting other’s needs
We are not just to not give harm, but to offer respect to others, but we must also give compassion to others when they are in need.  We need to feel their pain and seek to do what we can to help.  Then, we should share what resources we have to help others.  This empathy and open handedness is summarized in the Greek word, koinonia.

Equality of justice
Finally, Jesus emphasizes that these community principles—faithfulness, no harm, respect and koinonia—are not just for those like us, but for everyone, even if some fail, even if some are irritating, act hatefully occasionally and are occasionally faithless.  Respect and assistance is to be granted to everyone without exception.

If we are in Jesus, we are to live out these principles, create communities that live these principles out and teach it to others.  In this way, we are to accomplish God’s shalom for ourselves, our communities and, eventually, the entire world

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Why I Mourn and Pray

Why do terrorists keep terrorizing? Because it works.
The 9/11 attack was utterly successful. It horrified the world to such a degree that they were ready to attack innocent parties to sate their lust of vengeance. This caused many to shift their ideals, to become more revolutionary, and so more suicide bombers were recruited. The ideal revolutionary act is to create a world in which violent revolution thrives.
If we want peace, we need to create peaceful solutions to terrorists acts, because violence only breeds violence.

This is, in the end, spiritual warfare.

Satan is a liar and a murderer.  The evil spirits tell lies to humans so that they would fear the innocent and kill them.  As many as participate in the system of violence and judgment are judged by that same system.  Thus does Satan kill all humanity.  By our own hands. 

Muslims are not the enemy. Nor are immigrants or refugees. 

The enemy is the violence we force down the throat of other nations.

It is not enough for us to stop bringing violence against the good guys. All violence must stop.

It is not enough to give human rights to those who deserve it. We must give human rights to everyone, without exception.

It is not enough to give peace to the peaceful. We must give peace to everyone to teach them how to live in peace.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Futility of Shalom

At the birth of Jesus, the angels sang this to the shepherds:

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace.

This sounds like a promise to me, especially at the coming of Jesus.  A promise we can expect to unfold and be revealed by God, and soon at that.  A peace that the poor will be given what they need, oppression is not known, conflict is resolved in hope, and we all live in communities that comfort our sorrows.

But if there is one thing we can be guaranteed: there is no peace on earth.  And we have no real hope that there will be peace.

  • Billions live with hunger every day
  • In the wealthiest nation on earth, one percent of their population live on the street.
  • War will never end, and with it the famine and horrors that the oppressed live with daily.
  • Even those who have riches live with sorrow and dissatisfaction daily.

Why no shalom?
Why is the greatest desire of humanity thwarted? Why can we not find peace?

The common Christian answer is sin. Sin has so warped the world that we cannot even recognize the peace that God originally created.  If that is the case, which sin?  The “Pat Robertson” sins of homosexuality and public lust? Are they the sins that cause wars and hatred?  What about the sins of not going to church or tithing?  Are they the causes of poverty and homelessness?

It is interesting that there is a book in the Bible whose main subject is just this: why is there no peace on earth, why can we not achieve shalom? It is the little-read book of Ecclesiastes.

Ecclesiastes is a short book, full of pithy, but depressing wisdom.  It’s main theme is the pointlessness of existence on earth, how it achieves nothing.  In the middle of a canon of scripture which has as its main theme the salvation of God, this seems like a strange inclusion. On the other hand, those who preach the Bible seem strangely optimistic in the midst of a world that does not reach its goals.  There should be a firm text in this huge variety of books that explains exactly why the salvation we seek is so far from our grasp.

There are many smaller lessons, but I want to expound on four in particular that explain why we do not have peace on earth:

1.       We seek the wrong answers
The teacher of Ecclesiastes said that he tested himself, giving himself over to the extremes of different pursuits of humanity.  For a time, he pursued drink to overcome his depression. The gave himself over to sex and lust.  He worked and toiled hard.  He sought entertainment and pleasures.  And in none of these things did he find any hope or peace.  Drunkenness leads to depression, lust leads to heartache, work ultimately leads to futility, and a life of laughter is just empty.  All the things we do to fill our lives, to make them less pointless, to bring us peace in our hearts, all end up causing no peace.  And which of these things brings peace to the world, assists the hungry and homeless?  The common ways of seeking a life of joy ends up with us on our heads.

2.       Society works against peace
In considering the plight of the poor, the teacher tells us: “If you see the poor oppressed, the rights of the needy denied, don’t be shocked.  Every minor leader has their supervisor and a lord is over them. And the man at top will demand his profit, and everyone in between.”  Every person wants to profit from what they do, and if they can’t profit from their own work, they will take advantage of those under them.

Our whole society is a pyramid scheme, and the poor are at the bottom, whom everyone takes advantage of.  And even when the poor do something amazing… “There was a poor man who delivered the city with his wisdom. But when the task was finished, no one remembered him.” The poor and needy, even when they could help society, because of the nature of their position, they will not be remembered.  While the powerful and foolish will be remembered and listened to for centuries, despite their idiocy.

3.       Greed
Yes, says the teacher, sin is the cause of our lack of peace. But is sexual lust our main problem?  It might be a personal difficulty.  But the sin that destroys societies is greed.  “The one who loves wealth never has enough.”  Those who accumulate possessions or wealth finds themselves addicted to a lifestyle of collecting.  However, when God established the world, he set an ample of items that would be shared with all creation—but not enough for all to have too much.  Even as God provided food in the wilderness, everyone had just enough, but no one had extra.  So those who collect excess wealth are actually stealing from those who do not have enough.  If some have excess, others have less.

And excess wealth doesn’t even help the one who collects it.  The greater number of possessions, the more one has to spend caring for and securing them.  This creates more labor.  But the teacher lets us know that the one who spends all their time collecting and caring for their wealth, then no longer has time to care for others.  He ends up asking himself, “For whom am I depriving myself pleasure for all this toil?” He obtains nothing for himself, because he spends so much time on obtaining, and he has no relationships to give his reward to.

4.       We place all our eggs in the future
One of the main points of the teacher of Ecclesiastes is that we all work for a future that we do not obtain.  A person works for a good life, but that life is passed onto his children, not for him.  Another works hard all her life for justice, but never has peace herself.  In the end, life is full of striving and it ends in death, which is the end of all we have and accomplished.  Death is a sudden, solid, solitary end, beyond which no one really knows.

We like to think there is justice after death, some measure of peace, but in reality we don’t know.  All we know for certain is that there is no justice on earth. “The good receive what the wicked deserve, and the greedy receive what the merciful deserve.” 

If you thought the idea of no peace on earth was hard to hear, the teacher has a lot of fun facts like these.

He does make some suggestions about how to live in a world lacking hope or peace.  First of all, obey the government, because that just makes your life easier.  Also, serve God, because he has the only hope for a future beyond this world.  But he also says, take time in your relationships.  Take joy in the people around you—your spouse, your children, your friends.  Enjoy them, appreciate them.  Because that is the closest we will ever come to having peace on earth.  Take time with them now, because we do not know if any other peace will be afforded us. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Promise of Shalom

Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear; But with righteousness He will judge the poor, And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked. Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, And faithfulness the belt about His waist. And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze, Their young will lie down together, And the lion will eat straw like the ox.  The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper's den. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea. Then in that day The nations will resort to the root of Jesse, Who will stand as a signal for the peoples; And His resting place will be glorious. Then it will happen on that day that the Lord Will again recover the second time with His hand The remnant of His people, who will remain, From Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, And from the islands of the sea. And He will lift up a standard for the nations And assemble the banished ones of Israel, And will gather the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth. Then the jealousy of Ephraim will depart, And those who harass Judah will be cut off; Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah, And Judah will not harass Ephraim. (Isaiah 11:1-13)

A Really BIG Idea
The Hebrew word for “peace” is “shalom”.  Shalom is used most often as a greeting in Hebrew culture, even as its equivalent “salaam” is the greeting in Arabic.  To express “peace” to someone is to express one’s intent to not do violence and to give peace of mind to another.  However, “shalom” in the Hebrew sense is much more than what “peace” means in English.

            “Shalom” in the Hebrew Bible is used for the well-being of all of one’s physical needs, such as having sufficient food, rest, shelter, health, longevity, and even a good death, without pain.  Shalom also reflects one’s social needs, such as participating in a supportive community and being accepted by that community.  Shalom also has to do with one’s relationship with God, such as God approving of one’s actions and of God forgiving our sins.  Shalom also has to do with the well-being of a community, such as security, justice, a lack of disasters and reconciliation between those separated by anger.  And lastly, shalom applies to the destruction of all those who want to destroy shalom.  So when we speak of “peace” biblically, it means a complete well-being, physically, mentally, socially and spiritually and justice within one’s community.

            And where does shalom come from?  People can create some aspects of shalom, but ultimately, shalom comes from God.  As it says in Judges 6:24: “Yahweh IS shalom”.   In the New Testament, we find that the peace and justice of God is found through Jesus alone.  God gives this shalom to his people, yet we must enact this peace in the world through these gifts of God:

  • through the faith of Jesus (Romans 5:1)
  • through the Spirit (John 14:26-27),
  • through the word of Jesus (John 16:33),
  • through prayer (Philippians 4:6-7),
  • and through his people (I Thessalonians 5:13)

Promise of Shalom
Yet it seems that God has withheld his peace from the world.  The world is filled with disease and destruction and mental illness and hatred.  If the source of peace is God, why has he withheld it?

            First of all, God did promise shalom very specifically:

Psalm 37:11-- the Anawim will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant shalom
Psalm 119:165-- Those who love the law have great shalom
Isaiah 9:6-7-- The coming king will be the Prince of Shalom, there will be no end of the shalom he brings
Isaiah 57:19-21-- Peace to him who is far and near, but no shalom for the wicked
Luke 2:14-- Glory to God in the highest and upon earth peace among men who are favored

            From these verses we can see a few things:  First, that God doesn’t provide peace immediately.  He doesn’t wave a magic wand and amazingly peace appears.  Rather, God’s people have to go through a period of waiting in trials without peace before He gives shalom.  Secondly, God, in these promises, say that his peace will come through one individual—His emperor who will establish shalom among his people. 

And lastly, we see that shalom is not offered to everyone in the world.  We quote the passage, “Peace on earth” as God’s promise, yet that promise is not to everyone, but those who are given God’s grace.  Frankly, not everyone is ready for God’s peace.  The people who are opposed to peace for some of the world cannot have peace.  Nor can the people who are opposed to God, since the Lord is central to God’s shalom.  And those who are opposed to God’s king, the Prince of Shalom—Jesus— will also not be able to experience God’s peace, for they reject God’s means of bringing shalom.