Faithlink Discussion: Health, Wellness, and Shalom
by Jacob Juncker
Shalom is the Hebrew word that is most frequently used in conversations about peace and peacemaking… While it is a lovely and sacred practice to exchange peace with one another, to assume the English word peace expresses the fullness of the word shalom is to overlook the greater blessing of God’s gift of shalom. Strong’s Concordance defines shalom as “completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord.” The root of the Hebrew word suggests completeness, perfection, or fullness. In other words, shalom is the life God intends for us to have; but how do we get there?
from Faithlink: Connecting Life and Faith, vol. 16, no. 43 (Nashville: Cokesbury, 2011), February 20, 2011.
We get there by entering into community.
I think there is a false notion in our culture. Peace, our culture says, will come when I get my way. But, the shalom God offers isn’t about what we want–it’s about aligning ourselves toward the will of God so that the world might be restored to “completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord.”
So what is the will of God?
Shalom. And, I think it starts with what Jesus called the two greatest commandments:
“ The most important one is Israel, listen! Our God is the one Lord, 30 and you must love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with all your being, with your whole mind, and with all your strength. 31 The second is this, You will love your neighbor as yourself . No other commandment is greater than these.
Shalom is found when we wholly love God and neighbor. It is found when we put the needs of others before our own. Its refusing to withhold who we are from one another. It means that we offer our entire being, as a living sacrifice, to God and neighbor.
Shalom is not a solitary experience, but one best lived with God and neighbor. I appreciate Jenny Youngman’s (the author of this week’s Faithlink) inclusion and commentary of Wesleyan small groups as a means of seeking wellness (shalom). When I was in seminary, I helped found and then met with a group called the CommAve Society. It was a group of men and women who sought support–and shalom–through community. We met together weekly “in order to pray together, to receive the word of exhortation, and to watch over one another in love, that [together, we might] help each other to work out [our] salvation” (John Wesley describing the early Methodist Societies). The CommAve Society was a community in which I experienced shalom.
If you are seeking wellness and shalom, I’d encourage you to become a part of a small group that holds you accountable for your relationship with God and neighbor. If you would like to know more about the small group I was apart of in seminary, check out our Covenant here. If you would like to use this in your own group, please let me know.