I’m sure we’ve all heard this word before, but how many of us actually know what it means? Shalom (שָׁלוֹם) is a Hebrew word meaning peace, completeness, prosperity, and welfare and can be used idiomatically to mean both hello and goodbye. Of those definitions, which one of them stands out to you?
Who knew that one word could have so much meaning and quite a variety of definitions at the same time? The definition that stands out to me is “peace”. In a day and age where we have very little peace, I thought it fitting to discuss what peace means to me. How many of you have been driving down the road and had someone cut you off? Or, how many of you have (unintentionally) cut someone off? When I say the phrase, “road rage”, what feelings are elicited inside? How much anger is central to those feelings and what do you do with all that emotion? It’s gotta go somewhere!
Just the other day I was going to get a Red Box movie from the CVS in town and as I was approaching the drive off of Cochran, I noticed a grandmother walking her granddaughter from the store back to her car. She locked eyes with me as to say, “You better not make us walk too fast!” I got the hint. However, to make her point clear, she decided to slow her pace across the parking lot, causing me to stop on Cochran. I didn’t have a problem with that except for the fact that the other 3 cars behind me DID have a problem with that. A couple of car horns honked at me as to say, “You better not make we wait!” A tension inside me built up in a matter of nanoseconds. Do I start moving my vehicle toward the lady and her grandchild to expedite their travels or do I take one for the team and potentially wait to be rear-ended on the main road? I decided to wait and hope that the people would get a clue as to what’s actually happening.
The two crossed the parking lot allowing for me to let the caravan of disgruntled motorists pass by with their guns flying high in my general direction. No sooner did I get off Cochran than a car parked behind a large van pulled out from behind almost t-boning the side of my car. You can only imagine the look on his face – it was full of anger and shock. Finally I pulled in safely to a parking space to regroup.
What do we do with all this anger? Where does it all come from? How have we gone so far from being humans to just emotional sociopaths? When did we stop caring for the well-being of others? What kind of contempt would a person have to take their road rage and follow that person into a car wash, only to open fire on him in his vehicle?!!! WOW!!! If that doesn’t turn your stomach, I don’t know what will. The result? Two men who didn’t even know each other, dead and a mother of the one man who saw it all happen before her very eyes.
We need peace people and we need it now. Jesus is known as the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). However, when reading Matthew 10:34, Jesus says, “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.” What?!!! At first glance this saying sounds like a contradiction of Isaiah 9:6 (“Prince of Peace”), Luke 2:14 (“on earth peace to men”) and John 14:27 (“Peace I leave with you”). It is true that Christ came to bring peace – peace between the believer and God, and peace among humans. Yet the inevitable result of Christ’s coming is conflict – between Christ and the antichrist, between light and darkness, between Christ’s children and the devil’s children. This conflict can occur even between members of the same family (Mark 10:29-30, Genesis 27, 2 Samuel 13:22, 2 Samuel 15, Genesis 4:8…story after story of this contempt).
We need to repent of that lack of “shalom” within our own heart. We need to go before our Lord and Savior and beg for His forgiveness in our wayward lives. Jesus brings us peace and we spit in His face. Jesus wraps His loving arms around us and in the same motion, we stab Him in the back. You say to yourself, “I would NEVER do that to Jesus!” Putting a different spin on what Jesus mentions when He says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).
So the next time someone cuts you off, flips a two gun salute in your general direction, gives you a death stare; seriously consider “shalom” over “warring with your neighbor”. Ask for God’s shalom and He will grant it to you. As I said in the children’s message last Sunday, keep asking God for such things and know that you will not anger Him or wear Him out with these requests. Lastly, I wanted to leave you with Jesus’ Words as a summation of the Ten Commandments; “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'” (Luke 10:27). “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7) #shalom