All of us seek for peace in our lives, but peace is just a small part of God’s shalom. Shalom is right relatedness between us and God, each other, and creation. In this sermon, Greg shows how the Anabaptists seek after shalom in every part of their lives and how we can seek after shalom as well.
A distinct feature of a child of God is that they strive to make peace wherever they are. Jesus called all of his followers to be peacemakers, and he set the ultimate example through his own life. The Anabaptists have long been recognized as a peaceful tradition because they hold non-violence and peacemaking very high in their theology.
The Anabaptists have often been referred to as the Peace tradition. They understood that conflict, subjugation, and violence were never a part of God’s plan. Outside of a few extreme examples, the Anabaptists have been the one tradition that doesn’t have blood on their hands. But the Anabaptists also know that God’s peace extends beyond just non-violence. They understood that God’s peace was best understood as shalom.
Peace, in biblical terms, is described as God’s shalom. Shalom has been understood as right relatedness between us and God, others, and creation. When we are rightly related with others, we experience a peace that goes beyond our circumstances. Many believe that peace is having no conflict. But God’s peace is shown in conflict and outside of conflict. And at some point in time, the peace without conflict will show God’s shalom when we all exist in right relation with others, God, and creation.
Shalom begins when we are rightly related to God. This requires discipline, because our flesh keeps pulling us from right relation with God. The discipline that we need is two-fold. First, we need to become aware of the areas in our life where we are not in shalom with God. Second, we must choose and act in right relatedness. This often requires obedience to God’s will.
The peace that comes from shalom with God overflows from us into our relationships with others. We can never have more peace with others than the peace with have with God. So, when we become full of God’s shalom, we naturally begin to show that to others as well. Right relation with others means that we aren’t violent to them, or subjugate them beneath us. Instead, we show them the love that God has for us.
Finally, the peace of shalom should extend to creation. In Genesis 3, because of the sin that became a part of creation, the land and man would be in conflict. This curse, however, was reversed through Jesus’ actions. And while it is not yet fully revealed, we should begin acting with peace towards creation. This is not a political move, but rather a Kingdom action. We were originally called to care for the animals and the earth, but now we act to compromise and abuse these things for our own personal gain. Shalom means living in right relation with the animals and creation.
The Anabaptists believed that shalom was the true understanding of peace. Peace, in the world’s view, comes and goes based on circumstances. But God’s shalom comes whenever his Kingdom people choose to live in right relatedness with God, others, and creation.
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