Shalom is often translated in the Bible as ‘peace’, but this sells it short with our superficial understanding of peace.
It is a peace that passes all understanding.
Shalom is both a beautiful and yet amazingly powerful concept; we need leadership to be enthusiastic about it, to be explaining and proclaiming it, helping people to understand how central it is to the gospel and how it has a much bigger, wider, deeper meaning compared to the idea of ‘peace’ as lack of war or personal conflict.
This puts a very different slant on a gospel that some want to make narrowly about personal belief or conversion.
When we realise the multiple dimensions of shalom then we are able to biblically challenge those who want to make the gospel somehow about ‘religion’, rather than the renewal of all people, relationships, societies and indeed the whole universe.
Numerous biblical verses come alive in a new way when we see how often this concept of shalom is used to describe diverse, but related, aspects of the Kingdom of God.
Shalom is an exciting Hebrew word. ‘Peace’ no longer translates it. Shalom is wholeness, completeness, unbrokenness, full health, comprehensive well-being. For the individual Shalom is the soundness of being in every way, between persons it means relationships of trust, openness and caring … in groups and societies it involves social justice … for the environment it means living responsibly without pollution or destruction.
For me this dove-tails with my work in that social justice and human rights have a shared goal: the common good, human dignity, equally for all. The issues that make the common good and social justice difficult to achieve, such as poverty, exclusion and discrimination are in direct contradiction with human rights, which apply to all individuals indiscriminately.
The following are some other links to websites on the theme of ‘shalom’ in Indigenous thinking that may be of interest
http://www.upress.state.ms.us/books/584 – see page 27
With thanks to the writing and influence of the late Jim Punton