“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27 (NIV)
We all want to live in peace. In our Western context, peace means avoiding troubles or even the absence of conflict. We all want to live in peace, but this peace is temporary and based on the circumstances around us. As we have learned in recent years, no one has control over what happens in the world, and our lives can change from one moment to the next without us being able to do anything about it.
The good news is that God defines peace in a totally different way. The biblical concept of peace (shalom) refers to the fullness of life. Not just the avoidance of conflict but the full enjoyment of the life God gives us. This peace or flourishing does not depend on our circumstances but comes from God, who sustains and gives meaning to our lives. God wants us to live in peace, in the Shalom that only comes from him.
For this reason, even today, when Jews greet each other, they wish “shalom” to each other instead of a simple and temporary “good morning.”
However, our peace or shalom is imperfect and has been affected by sin. For this reason, Jesus, the promised Messiah, is the “Prince of Peace” as Isaiah 9:6 so aptly declares. Christmas reminds us that true peace has come to stay permanently with all of us. Jesus promised to give us his peace, different from what the world offers (John 14:27). Only in the peace of Jesus do we find the true fullness of life.
When our daughter was born, my wife and I named her Salma. Salma means “peace” and has the same etymological root as “Shalom” in Hebrew or “Salam” in Arabic. She reminds us of the true peace in Jesus, and we hope that she, like all of us, will be an instrument of peace to all around her.
Octavio Javier Esqueda is a full professor of Christian higher education and director of the PhD and EdD programs in educational studies at the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University in Southern California. He is an academic leader and practical theologian with worldwide experience and is an avid soccer fan.
Note: December 10, 2023, Advent Devotional for Buckner International.