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Seeking Shalom

• Greg Boyd

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.

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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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Topics: Anabaptism, Conflict, Creation Care, Relationships

Sermon Series: Kindred

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Focus Scripture:

  • Matthew 5:9

    Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

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28 thoughts on “Seeking Shalom

  1. kevin says:

    Hey Mom, guess what? I’m an Anabaptist! lol

  2. Michelle says:

    Thank you Greg. Beautiful message.

  3. Gopher says:

    Deja vu. I can’t believe Greg is preaching this same message once again. Time for some new material.

  4. Jill says:

    When you said “It’s the clearest teaching in the NT that is the most ignored” you said it all. Overall, I don’t think WH is paying a price for losing people. Anyone you lose because of this kind of message is not ready to advance the Kingdom, and therefore, those of us who remain at WH are hopefully right related and ready to advance the Kingdom.

    Also, I believe that we as fallen humans could hear this message everyday and it still wouldn’t be enough! It’s the same with the Christmas message, I could live to be 100 and I would never tire of hearing the Christmas message. And, Easter, I could never tire of hearing and learning about the death and ressurection of Jesus. It’s the GOOD NEWS that can never grow old.

  5. Jill says:

    Darn, I wish this site had spell check when you write a comment. I couldn’t even spell resurrection right.

  6. Tim G. says:

    I love you Greg but sometimes you go just a tad too far. “God loves the animals just like he loves people”. Really? I know God loves animals, plants (the earth) but, are animals part of the “whosoever” in John 3:16? And, while the cartoon definitely proves a good point, you could cleverly use absurdness in a cartoon to caricature ANYTHING you want. I love your heart and the overall stance Woodland Hills has taken choosing to please God rather than man as PS.118:8 says. But please be careful about going to extremes just like the “God and Country” folks have done.

    I enjoyed the message for the most part and, as always, learned a lot. love you my brother!

  7. Tim G. says:

    Gopher: A little harsh comment maybe :), but I agree that we hear this message from Greg quite often and he I’d like to see him speak on some other issues more.

  8. Kathy D. says:

    Greg, AMEN THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU, this is a message I have longed to hear from leaders following Jesus, so longed for, there are no words right now, Lord thank you thank you for bringing this message to the world through Woodland Hills and Pastor Greg and all the folks behind it, Father God you are so good and gracious and merciful and kind and compassionate, may Your compassion for ALL THINGS permeate through and through in us and may we not hold back the message of Good News to ALL creation that You work so hard to bring us and show us through Your Son Jesus!! Thank you Greg for speaking so clearly about our responsibilities for all of creation, in the spirit of right relatedness to God and each other, the animals and the earth. Diddo Jill!! Greg, please continue to teach Anabaptist principles and way of life that Jesus paid the ultimate price for. I pray for all who have seen this message and will see it, for open eyes and hearts to embrace all of creation – let all of us speak boldly as Paul said we aught the message of peace Jesus came to fulfill and teach us!! I jump for joy in this message, it couldn’t be better timing in my little world, may all of our lives who have seen this message and the cartoon glorify You through the living out in our own lives this message as it speaks to each of us, for Your Kingdom, Lord speak to each of us, give us hearts to set aside our own understanding and in all our ways acknowledge You – You will direct our paths – You did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, and love and self control – Your kind of power You give us, of meekness, kindness, mercy and respect – Oh I love You Lord, may our lives as Your Kingdom people reflect YOU in every inch, corner, aspect of each of our lives, AMEN!!! THANK YOU GREG, LORD BLESS YOU, don’t hold back what the Lord has started in you, He will finish what he Has put you in this place for, He will finish it through you!!

  9. Jill says:

    Kathy D. thank you for the beautiful comment and Diddo to you!!!!!

    Tim G. , I want to comment on your comment but the holy spirit is stopping me.

  10. Dave Pritchard says:

    Tim & Gopher,

    ………And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” (Gen 1: 31) ….as you well know.

    I would agree that perhaps Greg sounded a bit saccharine at that very brief moment in the message, but I totally caught the drift of what he was saying. As believers we can have those Francis of Assisi like moments where we’re so overwhelm by the beauty of God’s creation, that we just want to give it one great big hug! In his “Canticle of the Creatures”, Francis wrote – “All praise to you, Oh Lord, for all these brother and sister creatures.” Now, I’m neither a Roman Catholic nor a Vegetarian but in breaking out of this “habit of disposability” towards Nature that seems to permeate every aspect of my 21st century life, a radical shift in our thinking is desperately needed. Everything from the Coltan in this computer to the tires on my car that won’t biodegrade for another 40,000 years contributes to the problem. Paradoxically though, to be a really refined steward of the earth, one needs to be the Primary producer and consumer of ones own goods but with more than 90% of our population being or becoming urban, that’s not going to be possible in an extremely interdependent interconnected and over populated world. But then again, I don’t depend on wages earned from working in a large meat packing plant or chicken nugget factory, so being an idealistic “podrishoner” perhaps comes a little easier for me. Ha! The great thing about Greg’s messages though is that they are loaded with segues into other subjects. His affirmation of “Shalom” from last week is a good example where I then spent some time investigating the concept of “Peace” as its found in “The Guide for the Perplexed” by Maimonides. There’s a ton of positive directions that you go in with his teaching! Love this stuff!

  11. Christy F. says:

    Right on Greg! God loves ALL of His Creation, and as He has made us stewards of it, we need to love all creation as our Father does…This has become an increasing conviction in my life over the years…

  12. L.D. says:

    Is there a way to just get a clip of the cartoon as a post on facebook as someone who doesn’t go to WHC or any church may not want to watch a sermon…( but could spend a few seconds) watching this cartoon clip that sends a responsible message about the earth and if so how can we get this clip in its entirity. THANKS

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