When people hear the Hebrew word shalom they think of the word “peace”. They are right! Peace is a good English translation of the Hebrew word shalom. The problem is that in English the word “peace” is often thought of to be the absence of war or freedom from disturbance. Shalom is that – but it is so much more. Shalom is a state of well-being where all is as it should be, all things being right in the world. Things work the way they are supposed to. Relationships are harmonious and people flourish – there is wholeness and prosperity – this is shalom. More than simply peace.
One definition of poverty is “the absence of shalom”. If we lack shalom in any area of our lives something precious has been robbed from us. God intended shalom for us in every area of our being: our relationship with Him, self, others, and all creation. The problem is our shalom has been thrown off by the Fall (see Genesis 3). Thus, all of us have been robbed of shalom and we are by nature in poverty. We are all poor.
What? We, the wealthiest society in the history of the world, are impoverished. Yes! Many of us have a different form of poverty than the person living in the slums of third world cities, yet we are nonetheless poor. Luther said it this way, “We are but beggars.” Our poverty comes from our natural state. We
have inherited it – even if we are born into billions. All relationships suffer because of the Fall.
What is the answer? Sounds almost simple and trite as I write it – but yes, the Sunday School answer to every question fits well here. Jesus! He alone is the one who brings and restores shalom. In Jesus we begin to experience restoration, renewal and all-mighty power. The wrongs are made right. The blind regain their sight, the deaf can hear, the lame can walk. In the fully restored and made new creation He will make ALL THINGS RIGHT. He will restore perfect shalom.
Each week as we gather in worship we get a taste of the life that knows no end, the restoration of all things – shalom is present. Every wrong is being made right when we receive healing from Him through the Word and sacraments. As we experience His healing shalom – we pass it along to others. One beggar showing another beggar where to find food - this is true evangelism. The healing begins with His promises and will continue until the consummation of all things. Come quickly, Lord, bring Your shalom – NOW and FOREVER! Shalom my friends, shalom.
Pastor Doug Widger