October 3, 2015

What is True Peace/Shalom?

We hear the word “peace” bandied about quite often in these days of turmoil and lightning-fast change.  Our families, places of worship, societies, and governments can seem to be more occupied with chaos and anger than brotherly love. So, really, what is this concept? Better yet, what is the full meaning of the Hebrew word, “shalom”, very loosely translated as “peace”?

Does the word signify only a complete lack of internal and external contention and conflict? Hardly. If that were the case, not a soul in the world would ever feel at rest because our lives are in a constant state of transformation; some of it pleasant, some, not so much.

The Bible

The “peace” referred to in the Bible is deep and internal. It has nothing to do with what’s going on around us. For instance, Jesus certainly didn’t have rest/peace in his circumstances. He lived under the government of the mighty Roman Empire and the religious rule of those who didn’t believe in Him

Joyce Meyer

Joyce Meyer says, “Jesus had peace within himself.” That’s how he was able to calm the storms, such as the one that panicked the disciples on the Sea of Galilee. “We want peace in our circumstances. Jesus wants peace in our hearts.”

The Meaning of “Shalom”

I have looked up the meaning of this complicated word on five different websites. Here’s what I learned:

Therefinersfire.org—All Hebrew words convey feeling, intent, and emotion. Shalom means complete peace.  It can be broken down into the following words:

contentment, completeness, wholeness, well-being, harmony, welfare, health, tranquility,  prosperity

Wikepedia—The Hebrew “Shalom” is used as a greeting or farewell. It is translated into the Greek “eirene”, which is the root of the name “Irene”. This means quietness and rest. It can be used as many parts of speech: noun, adjective, verb, adverb, or interjection.

It refers to a hope of wholeness for the individual with societal relations and with the world. It doesn’t refer only to the absence of war or dispute. Completeness is at the root of it. It’s a state of safety, wholeness, and prosperity. It also means to make good, or to make amends.

Gotquestions.org—Shalom is both internal and external peace. It signifies more than a lack of conflict. It means completeness.

Preceptaustin.org—Shalom has to do with vigor and vitality in all dimensions of life. It is holistic health for our souls and spirits.

MyJewishlearning.com—Shalom is wholeness. It’s not just the political absence of war and enmity. It’s also not just the social absence of quarrel and strife. It’s a moral value, a cosmic principle, and a divine attribute. It’s a state of prosperity and blessed harmony.

The Bible
Philippians 4:6-7 (KJV)
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

My Conclusion

 “Peace”, as defined by the world, is rare. In fact, I don’t know anyone who has always had a complete “lack of internal or external conflict”. It ain’t happenin’ anytime soon, either, judging by the rising selfishness of people and negative trends throughout the world.

However, all of us can grab onto the feeling of wholeness and harmony encapsulated in the Hebrew word, shalom, when we refuse to internalize the constant, pervasive potential for strife.

It will be anything but easy. Yet, in the end, it will be worth the struggle.

Please read more about people who fought for peace and acceptance in my book, Accept No Trash Talk: Overcoming the Odds.

How have you found peace despite the odds?

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