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.

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner

LIKE SurfKY on Facebook - Click here to LIKE us now.

© Copyright 2015 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 on social media.

Posted on 2/2/14
3/13 - 16
1 DOW 17,689.86
-56.12 (-0.32%)    
2 S&P 2,103.84
-4.79 (-0.23%)    
3 NASDAQ 5,128.28
-0.50 (-0.01%)    
3/13 - 16

Most Read This Week

July 30, 2015 3672

Webster Man Leads Police on Chase through Parts…

by SurfKY News
July 31, 2015 3646

Miss Hopkins County Fair 2015 Chosen

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
July 28, 2015 2768

Hanson, Owensboro, Bowling Green Youths Win at…

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
August 01, 2015 2437

24th Annual Miss Teen Hopkins County Fair Pageant…

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
July 29, 2015 2390

Crime Stoppers Top Most Wanted - July 29, 2015

by SurfKY News

Most Read This Month

July 17, 2015 16582

Muhlenberg Most Wanted - Top 10

by SurfKY News
July 23, 2015 15539

UPDATE: Family Confirms Body of Missing Teen…

by Shawn Freels, SurfKY News

Stories Trending Now

August 02, 2015 1162

Poole Wins Hopkins County Fair Talent Show

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
August 02, 2015 997

Community Helps ‘Cram the Hummer’ for School…

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
August 02, 2015 908

Tiniest Division of Hopkins County Fair Pageants…

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
August 02, 2015 652

Spinal Cord Injury Patient's Foundation Sponsors…

by SurfKY News
August 02, 2015 430

Legislator's Log - Week of Aug. 2, 2015

by SurfKY News
August 02, 2015 372

'The Free' Gets Greenville Crowd Groovin'

by Mike Groves, SurfKY News
August 02, 2015 337

Dave Says - Aug. 2, 2015

by SurfKY News
August 02, 2015 309

Outdoor Truths - Aug. 2, 2015

by SurfKY News
August 02, 2015 299

MCCH Celebrates World Breastfeeding Week

by SurfKY News
August 02, 2015 162

Miners Land in Runner Up Position for OVL…

by Steve LeMaster