Shalom. We all long for it, but it seems elusive, doesn’t it?
Shalom is the Hebrew word for peace. It is a very rich word that brings with it the connotation of completeness and wholeness. Shalom is about more than just the absence of conflict. It is about how all that is broken in our lives will be made whole. The complexity of life’s moving parts guarantees that the harmony of our lives will at some point break down. The promise of shalom is that all of life will be whole, restored, and in a deep state of well-being.
If you are like me, you think about the richness of that word and you tear up. Life overseas can often make us feel the lack of shalom in our lives. Transition, grief, homesickness, culture shock, not fully belonging anywhere, starting over in community – these all expose our brokenness and our need for restoration.
If Advent is all about longing and waiting for Christ to come and make all things right, Easter is all about the assurance that He will succeed in making all things new. His resurrection guarantees it. We need that certainty because we don’t yet see all things as being subject to him (Hebrews 2:8). But his resurrection guarantees ours.
But, is shalom something we will only experience upon our own resurrection? Is it only our future reality when Christ returns and his endless kingdom of peace is finally and completely established (Isa. 9: 6)?
Romans 5:1-2 says that we now have peace with God through Christ. In John 14:27, Christ comforted his disciples as he was about to leave them, telling them that He was giving them His peace. Philippians 4:4-7 promises that as we make all our requests known to our Father, His peace will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.
So how do we experience shalom in the midst of our real life? Here are three practical ways to help us experience the fullness of His peace in the here and now.
Boast. When all your eyes can see is the brokenness around you, boast in the unseen. All the brokenness of our lives as expats and as laborers for the gospel is not our lasting reality. We don’t feel shalom when all we can see is the ways that it is absent. But when that is all we can see, we are missing the peace that has been effectively given to us through the gospel. We are not valuing peace with God as enough. We are forgetting what this peace with Him means.
But what if we boast in what we cannot see?
Yes, I am homesick, and yet Christ has made his home in me. I am going to a home prepared by Jesus’ own hands. That home is more real than any home I could ever have here on earth.
Yes, I feel lonely. At the same time, Christ has welcomed me into the life and community of the Triune God.
Yes, my body is spent. And yet, the life of Jesus in me enables me to be fruitful out of proportion with my limitations.
Yes, my life is in transition and I feel overwhelmed by all the unknown around me. But thank you Jesus – you are holding all things together. You are reconciling the world to yourself. Chaos in my life is not a reflection on whether or not you are accomplishing all your purposes for your glory.
Christ is our peace – our wholeness and completeness. This is our glory: what He accomplished through his life, death and resurrection. And as we boast in this and live by faith in His finished work, we will start to see the fruit of that reality in our lives.
Pray. Paul promises in Philippians 4:4-7 that the peace of God will guard us… as we pray.
What are the things on your mind keeping you from feeling the peace that is yours in Christ?
Talk to your Father about it. He is the God of peace – the God who restores all things and makes them whole. Make all your requests known to Him with thanksgiving. Then wait expectantly on Him to work for the sake of the gospel, His glory and your good.
Act. Often the lack of shalom we feel is related to our relationships. Sometimes there’s tension (spoken or otherwise) with people around us. Other times we experience misunderstandings with family; maybe we are dealing with unmet expectations with friends far away.
As people that participate in the life of Christ, we are agents of reconciliation. As much as it depends on you, be at peace with everyone (Rom. 12: 18). Think what is honorable and commendable about the people you are struggling to be in relationship with (Phil. 4: 8). Count others as more significant than yourself.
Don’t glory in anything other than Christ. What you put confidence in tends to define you. When you define yourself by anything other than Christ, it can result in broken relationships. But when the Christ who is your peace is your confidence, you are equipped to love others well.
Christ has given us his mind to do nothing out of selfish ambition, to count everything as loss for His sake, and to be OK with being servants. As we live in light of this mind He has given us, we will see how we are not lacking in anything but have been richly provided for in Christ Jesus.
Resurrection power is ours now to live the life of Christ. So friend, let not your heart be troubled. He has given you peace…His peace.
Where in your ordinary, real life are you longing for shalom?