Pax or Shalom?

As we meet with couples and others, most of them are initially looking for détente. You remember the Cold War? "We won't fire our missiles at you, you don't fire yours at us!" I have to admit sometimes that is what I am looking for too. It seems good enough.

How do you define peace?

The word, as commonly used in English, comes from the Latin "pax." Pax to the Romans meant a cessation of hostilities between the conqueror and the vanquished. Think of Pax Romana from your High School history class. The Romans veni, vidi, vicied and so they dictated the terms of peace. Until the Vandals came south. You see pax is always temporary because it changes with who is in the position of strength.

After World War I we dictated the terms of the peace with Germany. It did not prevent World War II.

On the other hand, the ancient Hebrew concept of peace, rooted in the word "shalom
," meant wholeness, completeness, soundness, health, safety and prosperity, carrying with it the implication of permanence.

Rabbi Robert I. Kahn compares "Roman" peace/pax and "Hebrew" shalom:

One person can dictate a peace; shalom is a mutual agreement.

Peace is a temporary pact; shalom is a permanent covenant.

Peace can be negative, the absence of commotion. Shalom is positive, the presence of serenity and wholeness

Peace can be partial; shalom is whole and complete.

What kind of peace are you looking for this season? What kind of peace are they looking for? Pax or Shalom?
Don’t settle for less. Not w/in-laws or out-laws. Not w/neighbors. Shalom or bust.

So where do we see shalom, how do we get it?

Isaiah 9

5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.

Dramatic change here.
Bloody garments and boots will be burned. Of all things the answer is a child. A son. The government will be on his shoulders, counselor, everlasting, mighty. Prince of peace (shalom) Jesus is shalom. For them and us. Everything else is détente at best. Everything.

Why is His peace different?
Remember the bloody garment and the warrior boot? Listen to Isaiah 53, maybe with new hearing:

"Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him
, and by his wounds we are healed."

There can be no shalom without war. There can be pax without war. But shalom, as I said, comes as a mutual agreement; a permanent covenant. The punishment that brought peace was laid on him. The full war, all guns blazing, all bombs dropped, all IEDs detonating, all nuclear missiles and spiritual weapons of mass destruction pummeling him. The wrath of God on the Son.

Shalom came on that day. That war brought us peace. It was a mutual agreement. He went as a prisoner. Surrendered, Stripped. He was the scapegoat. Yet innocent. That brought peace.

That is what we have been freely given. Shalom: wholeness, completeness, soundness, health, safety and prosperity, the tranquil state of our soul assured of salvation through Christ. That enables us to fear nothing from God and to be content with our earthly lot, whatever it is.

That is what they need.

This season: Pax or shalom?