Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Understanding Shalom

The word “Shalom” is an interesting word. Shalom is translated as:
(1) to be in a covenant of peace, be at peace, (Qal) to be at peace, peaceful one (participle), (Pual) one in covenant of peace (participle), (Hiphil) to make peace with, to cause to be at peace,(Hophal) to live in peace;
(2) to be complete, be sound, (Qal) to be complete, be finished, be ended, to be sound, be uninjured, (Piel) to complete, finish, to make safe, to make whole or good, restore, make compensation, to make good, pay, to requite, recompense, reward, (Pual) to be performed, to be repaid, be requited, (Hiphil) to complete, perform, to make an end of.
LXX translate Hebrew shalom, 250 times with the Greek word, eirene. Luke uses the word shalom (eirene) to describe the early struggling Christian church (Acts 9:31).

Wolterstorff, a Christian educator writes, “Shalom means people living in right relationships with God, themselves, each other, and nature- and in taking delight in such relationships. Shalom involves finding meaning in our experiences and celebrating the actualizing of creation’s potentials. Shalom involves recognizing in ourselves that place where Gods’ goodness finds its answer in our gratitude. Shalom is an ethical community where all the members have a full and secure place in the community. As such, it embraces a “non-abandonment” view of the creation that involves redeeming it.”

Expanding on this, Norma Everist from Wartburg Theological seminary in Duduque, Iowa writes, “Shalom looks both backward and forward. It recalls the paradisiacal Garden of Eden, and anticipates the coming of the reign of God. Shalom is personal, and may apply to Godself or to an individual human being. Shalom is communal, meaning the right relationship between friends, neighbors, a community, nation, or even all the inhabited world (oikoumene).”

The concept of shalom as having passive and active components is interesting. Everist goes on to explain, “For humankind, shalom is both passive and active. God’s people are dependent on this gracious, promised gift. Jesus made shalom through the cross (Col.1:20; Eph.2:15-16). When Jesus healed and forgave people, he dismissed them by saying, “Go in shalom.” We are to “seek and pursue it.” (Ps.34:14b as quoted in 1 Pet. 3:11 ). We are to be at peace, pursue it, send it, and keep it (Rom.12;18; 1 Thess.5:13; 2 Cor. 13:11) Rom.14:19; 1 Cor. 16:11). Shalom is an active fruit of the spirit and a mark of the realm of God. It is about the matrix of peace, harmony, and wholeness and is both a gift and task for the very goal of our teaching and learning life together. Finally shalom in Christian community is an inclusive concept, signifying a place, a dwelling and a life where we can be different together (Eph.2:14-22).” Therefore the heart of the meaning is close to life itself.

Shalom is linked with truth and justice in the Hebrew Bible, especially by Jeremiah (Jer. 6:14; 8:11). Forgiveness, righteousness, justification, reconciliation, pardon, restoration, good news, and salvation-words which point to harmony in any relationship- are all part of the semantic domain of shalom. In Paul’s theology in the New Testament Bible, justification by faith gives shalom with God through Jesus Christ. Shalom is Jesus’ “parting gift” to his disciples (Jn. 14:27; 16:33; 20:19, 21, 26). Therefore it is in shalom that the process of spiritual formation proceeds.

I will suggest that it is our responsibility as Christian educators to bring followers of Jesus to a cognitive KNOWLEDGE of God, to an EXPERIENTIAL encounter with Him, to develop an INCARNATIONAL and MISSIONAL lifestyle, and to a place of BEING in a right relationship with God and other people so as to be in SHALOM.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shalom: truly the most beautiful word, and the greatest blessing from the Prince of Peace (Shalom): "...the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53:5

11:08 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi chow wei,

yes, I find shalom to be a beautiful world. That is why I always end my correspondence with an offer of shalom.


12:44 PM  
Blogger prof said...

shalom lekulam!
help me to write biographies of great personnalities of
You can also write a letter to this personnalities!
I post your letter for you
a bientot
marcel - France

10:02 PM  

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