Pick Your Community: | Hopkins | Muhlenberg | Daviess | Christian | Henderson | Lakes | McCracken | Webster

Keeping the Faith — Shalom (Third Week of Advent)

ronniemcbrayer300 orangeKENTUCKY (12/15/13) — “On earth peace, goodwill toward men,” sang the angels on the first Christmas morning. The Hebrew word for peace is shalom. In Judaism shalomis a living concept, not a word; a vision for how life could be, should be, and the life God is pulling his whole creation toward.

In this way of thinking, peace is not merely the absence of war or conflict. It is not simply quietness or calm. It is overall wellbeing. It is health and wholeness. It is personal, communal, and cosmic harmony. It is a satisfied and blessed life.

So, when someone blesses you with “Shalom!” they are wishing you the highest and best that God can offer. “Be at harmony with yourself, your world and your God. Have a fruitful, robust life,” they are saying. All of that in a single word, and shalom is God’s intent and will for the world.

If this is true, then what in God’s world has gone so terribly wrong? As I write these words this world is anything but peaceful. Tyrants rule. Violence is routine. Political opponents dig in to fight, argue, vilify and wrangle. All while we mark the first terrible anniversary of that hideous act that played itself out in a Connecticut elementary school.

Peace, much less the broader idea of shalom, doesn’t seem to be how the “world really works” at all.  We are pushed to the same conclusion as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who wrote, mournfully, “There is no peace on earth, I said; for hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, goodwill to men!”

Yet, the problem is not God’s, for he has provided the path to peace and goodwill. The problem is our lack of practicing peace; and by “our” I am speaking of my own tribe – we who are Christians. We can be as hateful, combative, and eager for violence as any other group of people, sometimes more so. Nothing will change in this world – nothing – until those who follow the Prince of Peace become practitioners of his words and way.

Such practice isn’t easy, I know. I am a proponent of peace by means of nonviolence, and yet, nothing I say or write stirs more vitriol from other Christians than this subject. Within seconds of giving a talk about Jesus’ way of peace or writing an article with God’s shalom as its subject matter, someone from the local First Church will be wagging a finger in my face while trembling with rage or lighting up my email box with scorn.

I understand. In my heart, I’m not really a lover of peace, and I resist shalom. Deep within, I am a violent, revenge taking person. But stuck with Jesus, what choice do I have but to give peace a chance? Jesus gives us no other option but the confession, “Let there be peace on earth; and let it begin with me.”

This confession doesn’t mean we won’t grow thirsty for revenge, that we won’t be afraid, or that our faith will not be put to the severest of tests. But if we believe that one day the lamb will lay down with the lion; that swords will be beaten into plowshares; that mercy and justice will flow down like the waters; then we must live that belief – we must put peace into action – now.

I know that practicing peace appears impractical. Practicing shalom is not like implementing a public policy that will automatically eliminate conflict. Still, this is the way of Jesus. This is the redemptive purpose of his Incarnation and this Advent season. And this way of peace is the very kingdom of God.

In the end, Longfellow knew this too. After lifting his head from the deep despair of a morally bankrupt world, he wrote a superb, often ignored line: “Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: ‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;’ The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, with peace on earth, goodwill to men.” And yes, may that peace begin with me.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author. His newest book is “The Gospel According to Waffle House.” You can read more at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.

Disclaimer: The content supplied by columnists and letters to the Editor on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such content, statement, or opinions therein. SurfKY News does not necessarily adhere to or endorse content provided by outside non-staff sources.

© Copyright 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story by using one of the social media links below.

button coupons
button classifieds

In Other News...

Daviess County City Hall, Transit, Parks, Sanitation Holiday Schedule

DAVIESS COUNTY, Ky. (12/20/14) — The following is the Christmas and New Year's 2014-2015 schedule for the City of… Read More

Most Read This Week

December 16, 2014 10698

Coal Miner Fatally Injured in Underground Mining…

in Top News For All Sites by Dick Brown
December 17, 2014 7631

Elderly Couple Found Shot to Death in Muhlenberg

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Trooper Stu Recke
December 17, 2014 6798

Three Men Charged with Burglary

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department
December 15, 2014 5113

Hopkins County Woman Charged Second Time in Two…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
December 15, 2014 4568

Woman Leads Police on High-Speed Chase in Stolen…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police
December 19, 2014 4430

Dawson Springs Man Charged with Sexual Abuse of…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Detective Sean McCance
December 19, 2014 4362

Armstrong Mine to Layoff 39 by End of Day

in Top News For All Sites by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
December 18, 2014 4143

Cat Scratching over Dog Ownership Escalates

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Amber Averitt, SurfKY News
December 19, 2014 3991

Woman Flown to St. Mary's after Two-Car Collision

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Trooper Stu Recke
December 16, 2014 3888

Highway Crews Pre-Treating Roadways for Potential…

in Hopkins News by Keith Todd

Stories Trending Today

December 19, 2014 3304

Vehicle Fire Causes Traffic Back-Up on Pennyrile

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Doreen Dennis
December 19, 2014 1430

Greenville Mayor Honored during Final Council…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
December 20, 2014 1381

KET’s Kentucky Life Segment to Feature Old…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
December 20, 2014 1180

New Trial Sites Added for U of L's Brown Cancer…

in General News For All Sites by Health Sciences News
December 20, 2014 1083

Farmers' Markets, Vendors; Sign Up for Free…

in General News For All Sites by Ted Sloan
December 20, 2014 1066

WKU Public Affairs Claims 17 Statewide Awards

in General News For All Sites by WKU News
December 20, 2014 1056

Law Enforcement Officers, Agencies Honored for…

in General News For All Sites by Erin Eggen
December 20, 2014 1054

'When the Universe Was Young' Opens Jan. 4 at…

in General News For All Sites by WKU News
December 20, 2014 1031

Happenings and Meetings - Hopkins County

in Hopkins News by Amber Averitt, SurfKY News
December 20, 2014 983

City of Madisonville Holiday Schedule

in Hopkins News by Leslie Curneal

SurfKY News Group, Inc.
Corporate Office & Studio
1125 Nebo Rd.  •  Madisonville, KY 42431
270.452.2727 (phone)
  •  270.452.2249 (fax)


Contact a member of our staff: www.surfky.com/contact
Copyright © 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc.  •  Terms of Use  •  Site Map

social fbsocial twsocial yt
social gpsocial flrsocial rss