PEACE … SHALOM – Fred Henry

PEACE … SHALOM
God’s gift to us and to our world through us
– Luke 2 and Ephesians 2

Fascinated by the word, “SHALOM”!?
Hebrew word meaning peace, completeness, prosperity, and welfare … and can be used to mean both hello and goodbye.

Angel’s appearance, announcement and song – a vibrant picture of the meaning of “SHALOM.”\
… no fear … good news … great joy … for all people (from kings to humble shepherds) … glory to God … peace in earth … the favor of God resting in his people! … SHALOM!       – a brilliant statement of God’s original good design!

But by the time of the birth of Jesus, that peace had long been shattered …
… like a piece of china or porcelain – once so beautiful and precious – but now broken in a thousand pieces.

Paul describes that brokenness in Eph 2 – the broken relationship between Gentile and Jew …
Separate from Christ … excluded from citizenship in Israel … foreigners to the covenants of promise … without hope … without God in the world … far away … barrier … dividing wall of hostility.

All those descriptions of brokenness remind us of two great divisions and separations:
1st – OUR SEPARATION FROM GOD
… broken relationship because of our self-will and selfish bent to walk our own way instead of God’s way.
2nd – OUR SEPARATION FROM ONE ANOTHER
… as individuals and as people groups and nations.
We experience that brokenness so much in our lives today –personally and as cultures and countries of the world.

Is there any good answer?
Is there any real hope?

The angel said to those frightened shepherds,  (Luke 2:10-11)
Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.
Today in the town of David a SAVIOR has been born to you; he is the MESSIAH, the LORD.

And in those words, we discover the way to peace … the peace also heralded in the angel’s song: (Luke 2:14)
Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.
– All is well in heaven.
– All is well on earth – personally and globally.
– And all is well between heaven and earth!

And now we are in for a surprise! … just like those shepherds were surprised …

PEACE OF ALL KINDS AND FORMS BEGINS WITH PERSONAL PEACE
We are not fully ready for peacemaking yet with other people or nations until we have peace within ourselves and with God!
Peace with God and within ourselves is a GIFT!
That gift is a PERSON!
… Not a peace-plan but a person who is a peacemaker … a peace giver!
It’s the gift of a UNIQUE PERSON!
… A Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  (“The Lord Jesus Christ”)
Look at the uniqueness and the completeness of Jesus!
He is SAVIOR – one who takes our sin and guilt upon himself …through his cross and resurrection
… so that we can be forgiven
… be reconciled to God and be at peace with him
… and be at peace within ourselves.
He is MESSIAH – one who is both Son of God and Son of man …
… anointed to be king over God’s whole     creation.
He is LORD – one who leads all who bow to him and follow him in the way of peace!
… He welcomes us to be a part of his Kingdom of Peace

“THERE’S NO ONE LIKE HIM … NONE LIKE HIM!” – He is absolutely unique!
The contrast between the Caesar Augustuses of this world and Jesus the Messiah is radical!
… The Lord Jesus Christ comes and rules with humility instead violent force.
The contrast between Jesus and the relatively just and good leaders of this word is radical!
… The Lord Jesus Christ comes to rule with direct authority from the Father-God in heaven rather than human power or consensus.
“THERE’S NO ONE LIKE HIM … NONE LIKE HIM!”

The good new is that …
The Lord Jesus Christ came to bring Shalom to you and me … Reconciliation … PERSONAL PEACE!
Have you accepted that GIFT?
Will you accept that GIFT?
You can do that by trusting him with your whole life.

* * * *

But is there any hope for PEACE WITH OTHER PERSONS and AMONG NATIONS?
Remember the promise of the angels who announced with birth of Jesus …
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people …
Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Remember the encouragement of Paul who wrote after the life, death and resurrection of Jesus …
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility … His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility … For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household … … And in him (Christ Jesus) you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

* * * *

Here’s another bit of good news …
PEOPLE OF GENUINE PERSONAL PEACE WILL ALSO BE PEACE-MAKERS!

In one of his major teachings, Jesus said:
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:5)
Paul also says another place that …
God has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:19)

A wonderful example of this is taking place today.
Christian groups going on mission to the middle-east.
– Some only to Israel.
– Some to only to the Palestinians.
– Some to BOTH for the purpose of RECONCILIATION! …
Reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians/Arabs!
… to become – “one new man/one new humanity”  (Ephesians 2:15)

We also have a unique opportunity as “international people” and “3rd culture people” to proclaim and practice God’s “one new humanity” … through the gift of Christ, and his Holy Spirit!
Like the angels with the shepherds …
… We cross and close the heaven and earth gap when we bring other people of any culture and nationality to Jesus.
… We cross and close the cultural gap by loving and including others of any culture in the name and spirit of Christ.

One more surprise …
The Bible teaches us that …
SOMEDAY THAT PERSON … THE PEACEMAKER KING JESUS … WILL COME BACK TO EARTH
… Not just to rapture us out of this chaos, but to BRING PEACE to this earth …
… To lead us who know him in establishing  justice and mercy and humble leadership in this world!
… And eventually to complete the creation of a new heavens and a new earth!
… SHALOM! … GLORY! … GOD’S GRAND AND MAGNIFICENT DENOUEMENT!

BLESSING: – 2 Thess 3:16,18
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.
The Lord be with all of you.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
SHALOM!