Shalom – a Hebrew word which simply means peace.
According to the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, shalom appears in the OT 180 times. It is not used in a negative manner, rather involving completeness or wholeness as with the repairing of a relationship. One could say it means to have harmony with friends and family or even with allies, but it also can refer to health and security or being safe. We see in the OT testament it being used to describe a sense of confident awareness that all is well, as we see in Psalm 4:8, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (ESV) Another verse that comes to mind, and one of my favorites, which a song called, “The Blessing” is based on, is Numbers 6:24-26; if you haven’t heard it yet, it is worth it to look this one up on YouTube. (V24) “The Lord bless you and keep (guard & protect) you, (V 25) the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; (V26) the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” (ESV) (Countenance involves taking notice and treating people with favor.) Here the word peace or shalom is “total well-being”, so, it is indeed a grand and positive gesture to pray this blessing upon someone.
In the NT, we see peace used in a different sense. Here the translation is eirene, and in addition to the “total well-being” we see in the OT, it can also relate to not only our physical well-being but our spiritual well-being. Another great verse that we can associate with this is John 14:27, we see Jesus use it as a blessing, when He says to the disciples, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled neither let them be afraid.”(ESV) I believe, to capture the fullness of this message and blessing we need to back up to the previous verse where Jesus tells His disciples that the Holy Spirit is coming, He will teach them and remind them of the things Jesus said to them. He is giving them foreknowledge that after He is gone, the Holy Spirit or Helper will come to live inside them to comfort them. This message is not only for the disciples of Jesus’ time but also for us as believers in Christ, so that we also may be comforted and receive the blessings of Jesus; the peace that passes understanding. A confident awareness in God.
The ESV study Bible notes that it is all that Christ would do or had done through the cross and the resurrection to end the dominion of sin and to make peace between God and man. Peace between all who are in Christ and state of being spiritually whole again. Not because of us, but because of Christ. The world cannot achieve or provide peace because it cannot deal with the problem of sin. But God’s peace guards the Christian’s hearts and minds and “surpasses every thought” (Phil. 4:7, ESV).
Now that we have established the usage and meaning of the shalom or peace in the Old and New Testament, let us look further at our Spiritual gifts. I believe we, as believers in Christ, can achieve both the OT and NT meanings through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I Corinthians 12 was in my recent reading, when I picked up a book, I had purchased several weeks prior and began to read it. In “Forgotten God” Chan specifically brings the readers attention to I Corinthians 12 as a reminder to take seriously and, “to believe that you have been given manifestation of the Spirit and that your church, the worldwide body of Christ, and the world are crippled without your involvement,” (Chan, 2009, p. 91). If you are not familiar with or have not read I Corinthians 12 recently, please take a moment to read it. It gives us a picture of the church (as the body of Christ) and all its members. We are all one in Christ and are to use our gifts, given to us by the Holy Spirit, to help each other and build up the church. If you are like me, maybe when you think of the church, you immediately think of it as the place we go on Sunday morning or that your service is limited to your local church involvement. When we look at the big picture here and allow our minds and thinking to go beyond that of human limited views, we can see the church of Christ, and as Chan put it, “the worldwide body of Christ”, we can expand our horizons and realize that our gifts are to be used, not only in our local church, although that is important, but also wherever we are. Whether that be at work, school, the grocery store, our community or neighborhood, we are to use the gifts given to us to their fullest for the Glory of God, through the love of Jesus, with the help of the Spirit who gave them to us.
I believe when we are doing this, then we will have shalom or peace – knowing all is well, confident in God, not ourselves, and can sincerely pray for others to find this peace as well; to be successful in their endeavors, and use their gifts and talents to the Glory of God as we walk together through this temporary life and world, in an attempt to show others the love of Christ, in hopes to bring others to Him, through the saving grace of Christ Jesus. The steps to victory are steep, but the Spirit will help us. It is easy to be the same- the challenge is being different. When we have these critical components in place, and genuinely walk by the Spirit through faith, we will not want to follow the world anymore; and that, my friend, brings true peace and freedom.