Being a person who is, at times, full of anxiety, fear and discontentment – there is nothing more that I long for than peace. Not just normal peace, but the peace that passes all understanding. The peace that has been promised to those who follow Jesus. Philippians 4:7 promises “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I have been intrigued by the concept of peace this past year. I found that there is so much more to the word peace than I realized. I discovered that often times in the bible, the word peace is translated from the word shalom. Shalom is a Hebrew word referencing not only peace but also wholeness and completeness.
Shalom existed before sin entered the world. God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden. There was no barrier between them or the world around them. Things were whole, complete. It was the way God intended.
God also has promised us that we will again walk with him freely. In Heaven the world will once again be restored to its intended state.
But while we wait, we have access to that peace today. Heaven and earth collided, shalom came to earth. He came in the form of a baby.
His name is Jesus.
Unfortunately, when he came, he did not bring peace in the way we think of peace. It did not mean that we would live in a world without war. It did not mean that we would no longer struggle.
But he came to give us a glimpse. He came to give us an opportunity to experience shalom while we wait. He gave us the opportunity to walk with God, free from any barriers even when there are barriers around us. He gave us the opportunity to be the fullness of who God created us to be amongst people who are lost . He gave us the opportunity to experience shalom in the midst of strife.
I have mentioned throughout this series that I am in my own season of Advent. I’m in a season of waiting. But as I wait, God has opened doors. I believe that they are glimpses of what is to come. Just as Jesus has given me a glimpse of what is to come. Jesus came to give us a glimpse – a glimpse of Shalom. Of what is to come.
God has used this series on Advent to challenge me. I’ve been challenged to put language to ideas that are so ingrained in who I am that I no longer had a definition for them. This series has held me accountable in my own season of waiting. It has reminded me to remember what God has done, what he is doing and what he is going to do. He has reminded me of who he is and that I can put my faith in him. He has reminded me that I have access to Hope, Faith, Joy and Peace. He has reminded me that as I wait, I can experience Shalom. I have access to Heaven on earth.
And so do you.
Many of you will be heading to church this week. Some of you only go this time of year. Maybe you go because your Grandma makes you go. Maybe you go because you like the tradition. Maybe you go because that is what you have always done. As I was running today, I felt like God wanted me to remind someone – don’t let this Christmas be the only time you walk through the church’s doors. Make it be the first of many.
If you have had a bad experience with church, I am sorry. I apologize on behalf of all the Christians who have said hurtful things, that have been judgmental or that have just ignored you. Christians have given Jesus a bad rap. If you have had a bad experience with a church, if you can, put those experiences aside. Take the time to get to know Jesus. I have NEVER met someone who has experienced who Jesus truly is and has walked away from him. It’s us Christians who have ruined his reputation.
If, when you walk into a church, it isn’t full of people that are full of hope, faith, joy and peace, go somewhere else. No one will be perfect, no one will exemplify all of these qualities all the time. But you will know. There is nothing more contagious than being around a group of people that have experienced the shalom that comes from encountering Christ.
So this Christmas, don’t just go to church because it’s the right thing to do. Open up your heart. Open up your heart to who Jesus really is.
Advent is over. We are no longer waiting.
Jesus was born.
Shalom has come.
And because of that we have the opportunity to experience
And I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t want that.
Merry Christmas friends,