“Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
It is a term that is so often used, but yet at the same time, seems so far from reach and foreign.
In the passage in Psalms above the word for peace is “shalom” in the original language. The definition of shalom or peace in this verse is : completeness, soundness, welfare, peace. Shalom peace is when everything is as it should be according to God’s plan and intent. In Shalom peace people are complete, sound, taken care of and at peace.
From the passage in Matthew we see that those that seek to restore this shalom peace to our broken world are called the sons and daughters of God. Why sons and daughters? Because they bear his image, his character, his purpose to the world around them. It is what they are known for, it is how they are identified.
I often say I want peace, but I seldom want to work for it. I seem to prefer the kind of peace that is easy and it happens like a wish granted from a genie in a bottle.
Instead cultivating peace is more like tending a garden. It is back breaking work in the midst of a hurting world. Yet the fruits of the labor of seeking peace transcend this world.
One of the things that has gripped my heart for the past few years has been to take a look at our original call from God, when we were in the garden, when there was shalom. We see that Adam and Eve were called to spread the image of God, “to fill the earth and subdue/cultivate it.” It is interesting that for much of my life, I thought that Adam and Eve were never supposed to leave the garden. However this isn’t true. They were always supposed to leave, but it is important to look at the condition under which they left, a blessing or a curse. Under a blessing the work of cultivating shalom can flourish and is uninhibited, under a curse it is a fight.
As I reflect on this passage from Genesis, I see our call as two fold. The first is to bring life from death, the second to bring order from chaos and in doing so we spread shalom.
We are still called to this work, to bring life from death and order from chaos - to spread the image of God. Through Christ this work is made possible. Through His Spirit we love those who are deemed unlovable, through His grace given we learn how to give grace. Through His restorative work in our lives we see how to restore shalom to our world, one step at a time. Although this peace is so desired in our broken world, the work that we as children of God are called to partake in is so often left unattended. The vines and weeds take over the garden, the rocks and barriers remain in the fields. We / I don’t want to do the work. I want the peace without the sacrifice.
I have long been moved by this prayer, the full version can be found in the Prayer Section as the “Prayer for Peace”.
Lord, make you make us instruments of Your peace: where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
How has God called you to be a bringer of shalom, a peace maker to the place where He has put you?
How is God calling you to bring life from death, order from chaos in your life, your family, your church and your city?