Growing up around the holidays, I’d ask my Mom what she wanted. She would always say the same thing, “Peace and harmony in the home.” *Insert eye rolling* Now that I’m a mother, I totally get it—some peace would be really great!
The dictionary definition of peace is “a state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations.” That’s a great definition, but it falls a little short of the biblical concept of peace. True Shalom (Hebrew word for peace) does mean absence of conflict, but it also goes one step further. It’s a bringing back to wholeness, a reconciliation or redemption.
There is so much conflict happening around us, especially on social media. Can you remember the last time you were on social media and left feeling encouraged and uplifted? I cannot. It seems to be full of arguing and, a lot of times, rudeness. Because most of my feed includes believers, most of the examples I see are coming from people who are followers of Jesus, who came to bring us peace. Family against family, even fellow leaders and preachers, just being awful to others. How can we offer a message of peace to the world when we can’t live in peace with one another?
I’m the first to admit that I don’t always avoid this. I can be a little sassy. I try hard not to, and my husband always tells me, “You don’t have to swing at every pitch.” Spoiler alert: I have a hard time not swinging at the pitch. As a reformer and perfectionist, truth and right are very important to me and it’s hard not to address every perceived wrong.
Shalom isn’t about not confronting injustice or wrongs that we see. We need to be speaking into those things, standing for what is right and good. But it’s all in the way we go about it. When we speak up and confront, it should be from a place of restoration, reconciliation and redemption. Romans 14 talks of pursuing the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.
We often hear the phrase “keep the peace,” and what people often mean is “don’t say anything.” Instead of keeping the peace, let’s focus on being makers of peace, working to bring about wholeness and healing. Sometimes that might mean letting the pitch go by. Sometimes it might mean swinging hard, in love. Either way, let us act out of love and build toward restoration.
Illustration by Lan Truong