It’s a brand of sorts, defining people, giving the bearers something to yell as they drive away from friends after a fun weekend, or a word for television when they are behind Matt Lauer and have already said hi to their mom.
Peace is one of the few words to have its own symbol. That image is found on cheap jewelry, pajamas, lunch boxes, air brushed t-shirts, and front bumper license plates. Peace even has its own hand gesture. My favorite use by the masses is pairing it with what I lovingly call, the duck face.
This solidifies my point our translation of peace has thrust the original meaning into oblivion.
Folks, that’s tragic.
The best translation for peace from Hebrew is more than an emotion, which is how I often hear it described. The Hebrew word is Shalom. It means “complete wholeness”. Did you get that?
Shalom is the thought of total wellness. A person’s emotional, spiritual, and physical health, safety, and every other aspect of life all rolled into a tight package.
Numbers 6:24-26 says May the Lord look upon you with favor and give you His Shalom. This is a blessing asking God to supply for a person’s need in every area of his or her life. It’s much more than a feeling, and infinitely better than an environmental calm.
When Jesus says 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) he is telling the disciples he is leaving them complete and whole. To see what I mean, read the above verse and replace the word peace with complete wholeness.
It packs a punch, doesn’t it?
This was an important message at an important time. Jesus said this literally hours before his arrest, leaving his disciples feeling confused, scared, and alone. They needed these words and this message, because it was going to be okay. Jesus had left them complete, and whole, even though they didn’t feel that way.
He came so you can have complete wholeness too. Don’t settle for the shallow Christian version of peace, and definitely not the societal one.
After all, who wants to end up in a cheap t-shirt?
To learn more about the Hebrew word Shalom, see Lois Tverburg’s book, “Listening to the Language of the Bible: Hearing It Through Jesus Ears”. Also, a huge shout out to the awesome teenagers who posed for this week’s post photo, you guys are awesome!