It never was to be like this at all.
There was to be no hate. Only the perfect love of God.
There was to be no pain. Only the perfect presence of God.
There was to be no broken relationships. Only a perfect relationship with God.
There was to be peace. The word is shalom. Wholeness. Completeness. All the right pieces fitting together in harmony. All working together through a pure relationship with God.
And then, it was shattered. Adam and Eve wanted to be like God. And they were. They knew good and evil. Instead of having that knowledge of good and evil drive them to God for safety, for reassurance, for repentance, they fled, they hid, they lied.
And shalom was twisted and bent. Humanity was twisted and bent.
Jesus came to restore this peace. He came to reestablish God’s perfect shalom for us all. Jesus came to die so that we might live in peace–peace with one another, peace with God. He tells his disciples
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
In our day and age, the idea of peace is an absence of conflict. If there is no conflict between two people, there must be peace. Peace is when we’re all getting along.
The peace Jesus gives is not an absence of conflict. The peace he gives is shalom. The peace he gives is wholeness, completeness, a harmony with one another, with creation, and with God. That is the peace of Jesus. That is the peace that passes all understand that we receive when we come before God in prayer and thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6-7).
Last night, I did not see peace. I heard people cry out in pain. I saw the pent up hurt, anger, frustration, and distrust erupt worse than Krakatoa. There was a call for peace. A call for restraint. The peace called for was an absence of conflict. And that is good. Rage and hate cannot drive out and heal the pains of racism. Love can. Since last night, I’ve seen this meme pop up on Facebook.
No truer words can nor have been spoken. Yet, the word love is used opposite of hate. Hate is not the opposite of love, apathy is. Hate is the reaction to an absence of love or, worse yet, the opposite of love which is apathy. Hate begets hate, love begets love. Love shines a light in the darkness where it cannot be hidden.
There is a struggle in our society to confess the sin of racism. The lack of love in addressing the issues at hand opens the door to hate on both sides. An apathetic response in an attempt to calm all sides in the guise of being “color blind” leads to not seeing those on all sides for who they are–people made in the image of God.
In the peace, the shalom, that Jesus brings, there is no separation, only wholeness.
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for all are one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 4:26-28
There is peace available in life. A peace that transcends all understanding. A peace that is not an absence of conflict but a peace that brings wholeness and completeness.
People are calling for peace in Ferguson, MO. The peace they are calling for is an absence of conflict.
Do not pray for peace, pray for shalom. Pray for the shalom of God through Jesus to permeate through the city, through the cultural and racial divide that has developed. For form restoration of relationships.
Jesus offers us all shalom. Shalom is wholeness and completeness. These are the peaces of life.
Racism will not be overcome this side of glory I am sorry to say. When Jesus returns in his fullness and glory all things will be made new again. Shalom will once again fill the earth.
Instead of hate and apathy, perfect love.
Instead of pain, the perfect presence of God.
Instead of racism and division due to broken relationships, a perfect relationship with God.
Instead of separation from one another, from creation, and from God, a perfect shalom with God.
Until that day, live the shalom. Do not live in an anticipation of a peace created by a void of conflict. Live each day in anticipation of the fullness of shalom. Live that shalom, practice that shalom, give that shalom.
It might start with one but it can spread like a flame to thousands.