One of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies has Robert Duvall shouting at God: ”Gimme peace!”
I feel like the whole world is shouting that lately: “Give us peace! Give us peace!” Of course, opinions about how we achieve this run the gamut: more gun control, less gun control, accepting refugees, banning refugees, direct engagement, isolationism. Whatever the means proposed, the end is the same: Give us peace.
Here’s the good news: In just two days, Peace will come. Maybe not the way we envision, but Peace will come. In just two days, the Prince of Peace will once again enter a world as broken, violent and messy as the one on the first Christmas to remind us that Peace is not a political solution. Peace is not a military solution. Peace is not something we can legislate, manufacture or create. Peace is a person. And until we understand that, the peace we are desperate for — in our world, in our communities, in our homes, in our hearts — will elude us.
The Bible talks a lot about peace, but only sometimes as the absence of war or conflict. Most of the time, the Bible’s idea of peace — Shalom — has to do with the human heart. It takes several words in English to capture it’s meaning: Integrity. Wholeness. Satisfaction. Rest. Healing. Serenity. Fulfillment. Harmony in relationships, with God and with each other. In short, shalom is everything God wants for us, and everything only He can offer us.
Now, this hasn’t stopped us from trying to find it elsewhere. The Bible also talks a lot about how we look for shalom in all the wrong places. Adam and Eve were the first to turn from God, longing for something more, something else to satisfy them, but they weren’t the last. We still can fall into the trap of wanting to be like God, of thinking that we can make ourselves and our world secure, happy and whole apart from Him.
When we count on ephemeral things for eternal peace in our hearts or our homes, we will be disappointed every time. When we think that the right legislation or military strategy or social policy will by itself bring peace or justice to our world, we will fail and never understand why.
Peace isn’t a concept, an idea or an abstraction. Peace is Jehovah Shalom — the Lord is Peace — and we celebrate His coming, past, present and future.
May wholeness be with you this Advent and always. May healing be with you. May tranquility and serenity in the face of trials be with you. May rest and fulfillment be with you. May you allow Peace personified to make you whole. May this be the beginning of peace in our hearts, in our homes, our churches, our cities, our country, our world. Shalom.