I began reading the book “Velvet Elvis” by author Rob Bell several weeks back. Slowly at first, but my interest and anticipation has increased. I wasn’t sure at first how i felt about it, but it’s really starting to get to me.
Now, a few friends have picked it up and we’re discussing it. It’s one of those books that makes you think – and I like that – I need that.
Anyway, a few days ago, there on page 106 and 107 something jumped out of the book at me.
If you have been reading my blog for any time, you’ll notice that I end all my posts with “peace.” I was (am) quite deliberate with this. I end many of my personal emails that way and I actually tell friends this after a phone or personal conversation. I don’t mean to attempt to be “cül” or edgy with my speak – nor is it a throw back to the 60s. I fully intend for this to be a blessing – a prayer of peace for those who take the time to read or to listen.
Well, there in Mr. Bell’s book is the following passage. He’s talking about the woman who touched the hem (or the tassels) of Jesus’ garment:
He says to her, “Go in peace.”
The word Jesus would have used for peace is the Hebrew word shalom. Shalom is an important word in the Bible, and it is not completely accurate to translate it simply as “peace”.
For many of us, we understand peace to be the absense of conflict. We talk about peace in the home or in the world or giving peace a chance. But the Hebraic understanding of shalom is far more than just the absense of conflict or strife.
Shalom is the presence of the goodness of God. It’s the presence of whole-ness, completeness.
So when Jesus tells the woman to go in peace, he is placing the blessing of God on all of her. Not just her physical body. He is blessing her with God’s presence on her entire being. And this is because for Jesus, salvation is holistic in nature. For Jesus, being saved or reconciled to God involves far more than just the saving of your physical body or your soul – it involves all of you.
God’s desire is for us to live in harmony with him – body, soul, spirit, mind, emotions – every inch of our being.
So – with a bit more understanding, I don’t just wish you the absense of conflict, I’m wishing you the full presence of the goodness of God. In the coming new year, may you find what the woman in Luke 8 found when she touched Jesus’ garment.