“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14)
Peace is one of the most beloved themes of Christmas. I remember often experiencing a few moments of Christmas peace while sitting in our living room on Christmas morning. All the gifts were ready. The house was beautifully decorated with glowing lights all around. It was quite stressful to try not to wake the children while quietly assembling tricycles, playhouses, play strollers and other toys, even after reading the instructions. When we finally had the stockings filled and everything was nearly perfect, we were able to experience a special time of beauty, quiet, and peace like no other. A few minutes later, that quiet peace would then be invaded by the squeals and laughter of children running to find out what gifts they received. What joy!
Imagine the great joy that invaded the fearful hearts of the shepherds on the night when the heavens lit up and the angels proclaimed “peace on earth” in dramatic fashion. They brought the good news of true peace.
This peace that all mankind longs for is called “shalom,” God’s word for peace. The Hebrew shalom (and its Greek equivalent eirene) implies not only peace, but also harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility. It means to thrive and flourish and to be successful. It especially includes the idea of filling an ultimate goal or purpose. The idea of making peace (shalom) in Hebrew is to restore to wholeness something that had been broken accidentally or on purpose. If you accidently broke your neighbor’s fence, you were expected to bring shalom and restore it to its original design and purpose. If you stole something, you were required to bring about shalom and restore all that you had taken, just like Zacchaeus did after he met the Messiah (Luke 19:8).
So, when the shepherds heard the angels announce, “shalom on earth…to all men,” what did that mean?
Jesus provides Shalom with God
First of all, Paul explains that the Gospel message of salvation is Shalom.
“Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace (shalom) with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1–2)
The only way that we can be reconciled to God is through Christ…being remade and renewed as He intended it to be:
“And, having made peace (Shalom) through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” (Colossians 1:20)
Peace on earth is not first a horizontal dynamic between us and others. It is primarily a vertical restoration of wholeness, completeness and harmony between God and man.
Jesus provides Shalom within Ourselves
God will freely give inner shalom to those who have accepted God’s gift of salvation.
“Peace (shalom) I leave with you, my peace (shalom) I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)
“The traditional greeting among Jews is shalom aleichem, peace unto you; to which the response is aleichem shalom, to you, peace. But today, on the streets of Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, we are far more likely to hear one Israeli greeting another with Shalom! Mah shelomcha? The English equivalent is “Hello! How are you?” Literally, the phrase means, “What is [the state of] or How is your peace?” (The Bradenton Herald)
How IS your peace? How is shalom (quietness, harmony, tranquility) being displayed in your heart? Our inner peace can easily be disturbed by fear, anxiety and perplexing circumstances. This can lead to a constant state of our hearts being agitated and disturbed, like a tumultuous sea. If that is often the state of your heart, distractions will not bring shalom. Escapes will not bring shalom. Relationships with others will not bring inner shalom. Only Jesus can bring His
“And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, (shalom) be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4:39)
Jesus Christ will freely give “perfect peace” to those who steadfastly set their minds on Him.
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, (shalom-shalom) whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.” (Isaiah 26:3)
“Shalom-shalom” is a deep emotional and psychological peace that brings hope because we are choosing to trust the Sovereign, All-powerful, All-wise Jehovah God. Alexander Maclaren said that “Peace comes, not from the absence of trouble, but from the presence of God.” In other words, shalom is not just a truth but is a Person, Jesus Christ.
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace (shalom). In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Jesus provides Shalom with Others
Since we have experienced the restoration (shalom) to a Holy God through the blood of Christ, we are called to seek shalom with others. This is one of the most difficult aspects of living the Christian life today. Nations are divided. Churches are divided. Families, even believers, lack shalom. Most marriages lack true shalom, completeness and harmony. Shalom with others, unlike shalom with God, is not a once for all event. Pursing shalom within ourselves and with others must be a way of life. We should constantly live in the atmosphere of reconciliation.
“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;” (2 Corinthians 5:18)
Reconciliation is the act of bringing shalom back to our relationships. Just as Christ restored our relationship to God, we are to live in a constant atmosphere of reconciliation. Seeking to display and promote shalom in all our relationships. This is our calling.
Ken Sande, the author of The Peace Maker, argues that the lack of harmony in any relationship is one of the greatest opportunities to display the gospel.
“To some, conflict is a hazard…To others it is an obstacle they should conquer quickly and firmly. But some have learned that conflict is an opportunity to solve common problems in a way that glorifies God. Every time you encounter a conflict, you will inevitably show what you think of God. If you want to show that you love Him, then ask Him to help you trust, obey, imitate, and acknowledge Him, especially when it is difficult to do so. This behavior honors God and shows others how worthy He is.”
Jesus truly is worthy of every effort to maintain shalom with others.
“Endeavouring (doing all that is within our power) to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of (shalom) peace.” (Ephesians 4:3)
My fellow believer, how is your Peace?
Are you resting in your unshakable shalom relationship given to you by God?
Are you constantly restoring your inner shalom by choosing to trust God?
Are you daily pursuing to bring shalom into all your relationships in order to glorify God?
Jesus Christ is worthy of our worship and doing everything in our power to promote true peace. Shalom is who He is:
“…and his name shall be called…The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)