Sunday, March 13, 2016
I've been kicking around the idea of living in abundance for years. It is a Biblical concept that seems to have been distorted by prosperity gospel preachers so whenever I started talking about what I had learned, wise Christians would counter my thoughts by talking about suffering for the gospel and hard times. I didn’t want to discount their experience and numerous verses about suffering for Christ but Jesus also said that he came that we might have life more abundantly. So I kept looking for the balance- I didn't want to be limited to pink cotton candy prosperity fluff and miss the healthy broccoli of suffering. In my quest to really understand abundant life, I came across the concept of “Shalom.” This Hebrew word is usually translated "peace" in English. Jesus explains the connection between peace and suffering in John 16:33, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
Jewish people will great each other by saying "Shalom" just like Hawaiians say "Aloha." Both of these words carry a deeper meaning than simply saying "Hello." Though “Shalom” is often translated "peace" and used conversationally as we would use the word "Hello," it is a powerful word and concept that can be summarized by the phrase "abundant life." Shalom contains the idea of perfection and completeness- think about life in the Garden of Eden before sin. Perfect relationships between God and mankind- no sin, no strife, arguing, blaming, no conflict. Our desire for peace shouldn’t just be for an absence of strife or a toothless compromise but for abundant life.
Shalom is a blessing and desire for peace and health in every aspect of life. It means not just the absence of fighting or conflict but the completeness and perfection of life at its fullest, with security and prosperity. I found this quote on my Jewish Learning that caught some of this concept- "In the Bible, the word shalom is most commonly used to refer to a state of affairs, one of well‑being, tranquility, prosperity, and security, circumstances unblemished by any sort of defect. Shalom is a blessing, a manifestation of divine grace." True shalom isn’t a wimpy prayer or desire, it is a call for abundant life that doesn’t end with this life. Get this- In Christ we have perfect peace, abundant life, and amazing grace.
We had a chance to visit the catacombs in Rome and I was struck by the power of the phrase "Rest in peace" that was put on the Christian tombs. Carved in stone during a time of suffering and persecution, this was not a statement of passivity or condolence but a reminder that life after death was truly abundant life - healthy, free of strife and fighting, complete with perfect relationships between God and man- where the lion will snuggle up with a lamb.Those of us who believe in Jesus have eternal life (John 3:16) since eternal means living forever,past present and future, therefore abundant life of peace is not limited to when we die, in Christ we have it now and forever.
How can you daily rest in peace, knowing that through Christ you have abundant life?
Posted by Penny Noyes at 12:42 PM