Last week I was invited to give the message at church. This was after a long week of pain and sorrow in our community that began with the brutal death of George Floyd. We were to be celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit, and yet, the pain of the week could not be ignored.
As I wrestled, prayed, cried and prayed some more, I discovered something new to be about the word shalom. Shalom translated in to English is peace. However, as is often in the case of the Hebrew language, the word has a broader and deeper meaning than the American version of peace.
According to Brad Young’s Jesus the Jewish Theologian, the word shalom means much more than peace (1993). It means to make whole including every aspect of wellbeing, and inner strength. Wow.
We have been praying for peace. Putting that in light of “to make whole,” brings clarity and a sense of responsibility to praying for peace. What our country needs is so much more than peace, so much more than a lack of conflict. Our country needs shalom. Our communities need shalom.
Shalom means recognizing the inequities and bringing changes to our systems. Shalom means reconciling the differences, changing practices, confronting implicit biases and forgiveness. Shalom calls me to action. Rather than settling for the conflict to simply end, we are called to restore communities and individual lives.
Read the scripture below and change peace for shalom.
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11 NIV).
What if we lived in shalom? What if shalom was goal no just peace? Imagine the change that could take place. Imagine the implications of bringing wholeness back to someone’s life. That’s more than a life without fear. That’s a life with purpose, meaning and a sense of being reconciled to a system of oppression. Not only is the oppression gone, but the person is made whole. This is a profound level of change. The kind of change God wants for us.
The word peace will always make me think of shalom. It is time to focus on all aspects of one’s wellbeing. I commit to being a vessel for the Holy Spirit to bring shalom. Will you join me?
How do you seek shalom? How are you a vessel for the Holy Spirit? Share you experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.