Tuesday, April 11, 2006
THE SHALOM EXPERIENCE
It was prior to his resurrection that Jesus spoke these words, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10, NIV). You will be familiar with the context. Jesus is identifying himself as the Good Shepherd who tends and nurtures the sheep with compassionate care. With this personal characterization, Jesus sets himself in stark contrast to those who had no interest in the welfare of the flock or who would leave the sheep defenseless in times of crisis.
As we look at life’s circumstances, both then and now, what shall we make of this remarkable statement about having life, and this life being full? Was Jesus referring to life beyond this earthly existence, in the heavenly realm? Or did he intend his words to have application in the immediate life situation?
In reality, Jesus is offering the opportunity to experience meaningful life in the present, as well as enduring hope for the future. It is the kind of life, depicted by the Hebrew word, “shalom”, that kind of life of inner peace and stability that transcends the tumult and day-to-day chaos of life.
In her book, Embracing the World, Jane Vennard says, “… For shalom does not bring everything to rest; it puts everything into motion. Shalom does not prevent every risk, but accepts every risk that is necessary for its work. Shalom does not resolve every conflict; rather, it accepts conflict as the context in which the work of shalom must be done.”
But shalom is not something to be claimed exclusively and individually, but made accessible to all and experienced in community, as well. It is only in this broadened sense of shalom being shared that we can know authentic shalom for ourselves.
So in celebrating the resurrection on this Easter, we are celebrating life. The resurrection testifies to the possibility of shalom for all people, beginning now and continuing through eternity. Our prayer is that those among whom we live will experience shalom themselves.