What is peace, true peace?
This week we’re diving into Jehovah Shalom, The Lord’s peace. In Teaching and Worship, we’ll be focusing on the story of Gideon in Judges 6, the place in scripture where God is called Jehovah Shalom.
As I read Judges 6, I couldn’t help but think, ‘This can’t be right! There’s no peace here. The nation of Israel is in such a mess. Gideon seems so frustrated, and afraid.’ I thought peace was brought on by beautiful sunny beach days, or sitting on my couch snuggled into my softest blanket with a cup of coffee and the latest page turner in my hands. But those lovely images aren’t backed up in this passage. So, I had to sit with the question: what is peace?
Peace is not a truce. It’s not when I force my grumpy little girls to face each other and choke out the words “I’m sorry.” Spend any time with little kids, and you know that this can’t be the measuring bar.
Peace is not a cease-fire of avoiding the hard things in life. It’s not when my attitude towards my marriage is, “My husband and I aren’t out-and-out fighting anymore… we just haven’t spoken to each other in a week.”
Peace must be more than the absence of conflict. If God’s Shalom is true, and available to us today, it can’t depend on a specific setting, or set of circumstances.
The Hebrew word Shalom means well-being in its broadest sense. It means completeness, wholeness, and having things ordered. Homeostasis might be a good synonym for Shalom. Remember homeostasis from high school biology? It’s the process by which living things maintain internal stability. They can flex and correct their internal structure if an outside stimulus threatens their normal function.
Shalom is internal stability, even when external circumstances are far from stable.
How did Gideon find peace? The answer in Judges 6 is simple, but profound. Gideon had peace when he knew that the Lord was with him. That’s it. The single realization, “I’m in the divine presence of God,” gave him peace. The same can be true for you and me today, and how much more on this side of the cross!
Jesus is called the Prince of Peace. The name Prince of Peace is the Hebrew, Shar Shalom. It means “the one who removes peace-disturbing factors,” or “the one that secures peace.” Jesus is immediately set apart from all human princes. His success and reign weren’t secured by bloody battles. Jesus didn’t come as a valiant warrior. He came as a peaceful, humble man. He knew that God’s people didn’t need to crush their human oppressors as much as they needed to restore peace with God. In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul wrote, “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”
Christ’s death on the cross negotiated peace between us and God. His sacrifice allowed us to be transformed from enemies of God into children of God. If Jesus Christ is your Savior, there’s a peace that flows in you as He said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Your life may be a mess, you might be dealing with a hardship you didn’t see coming, or you feel like everything is unraveling around you.
Yet, you are a beloved child of the most high God, no matter what.
You are accepted, adopted, dearly loved, and eternally secure.
There’s an unshakable peace that comes from that knowledge!