Can we gain more than a glimpse of peace in 1986?

Thrust into A.D. 1986, we each can profitably ask how we can cooperate with God as we pray, “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Sweeping into its holy embrace everything that satisfies his loving heart, God’s will at least demands that in 1986 we recognize the mandate implied in the promise, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Lying behind that New Testament Greek word for peace is the Hebrew shalom. Whatever else it includes, God’s will is a demand for shalom—shalom on earth, shalom in history, shalom now as well as in eternity.

The word is richer than its common translation, “peace.” Perhaps we should leave it untranslated, as we often do with agape and koinonia. Shalom is an all-inclusive peace, peace between God and men, peace within our soul, peace among neighbors and nations, peace even in nature when lamb and lion lie down together.

Far from being primarily an inward and religious experience, shalom “in its most common use is an emphatically social concept” (von Rad). It is a wholistic state of health and harmony, safety and security, prosperity and piety, justice and joy, well-being and worship, fulfillment and freedom. It spells freedom from poverty, conflict, disease, inequity, and oppression. Where shalom is present, sin and sorrow are absent. Where the sword is at rest, where reconciliation has been completely effected, where righteousness prevails, and where people rejoice together, there shalom reigns. And there, in a society where his will is done, a God-glorifying order of human life prevails.

Psalm 85 beautifully depicts this: “Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness ...

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