(it’s a long post… I am in my rare ‘intellectual’ moment )
As I was was working on a custom order for my shop, I was listening to Timothy Keller’s sermon on Justice. He was extrapolating what justice meant to God based on one of the Old Testament book, Zechariah, Chapter 7 (Emphasis mine):
7 In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, the month of Kislev. 2 The people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-Melek, together with their men, to entreat the Lord 3 by asking the priests of the house of the Lord Almighty and the prophets, “Should I mourn and fast in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?”
4 Then the word of the Lord Almighty came to me: 5 “Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted? 6 And when you were eating and drinking, were you not just feasting for yourselves? 7 Are these not the words the Lord proclaimed through the earlier prophets when Jerusalem and its surrounding towns were at rest and prosperous, and the Negev and the western foothills were settled?’”
8 And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: 9 “This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.
So what does Justice have to do with the word Shalom (which is mostly translated as peace)?
Here is what Wiki has to say about Shalom (emphasis mine):
‘Hebrew root shalam – meaning to be safe or complete, and by implication, to be friendly or to reciprocate. Shalom, as term and message, seems to encapsulate a reality and hope of wholeness for the individual, within societal relations, and for the whole world. To say joy and peace, meaning a state of affairs where there is no dispute or war, does not begin to describe the sense of the term. Completeness seems to be at the center of shalom as we will see in the meaning of the term itself, in some derivatives from its root, shalam, in some examples of its uses in Jewish and Christian Scriptures, and in some homophone terms from other Semitic languages.’
Pastor Keller pointed out the passage is implicating that while one can be morally just, ceremonially excellent, one may miss the true meaning of God’s shalom. Which is an integrated community where people within are connected, complementing one another’s lacking. A completeness of soul, mind, physical well being, relations, and surrounding environment.
Therefore, true peace, or true shalom, is not merely a personal achievement of moral high ground, and worshipful practice, but an integration into the community that surrounds. When the surrounding is hurting, one is also hurting. When children elsewhere cannot receive same standard of education one’s own child is receiving (thus missing out on a better livelihood), the heart is aching. As one aches, one plunges his or her resources into the lacking area, in order to bring forth shalom.
Pastor Keller went on and quoted someone’s definition of wicked vs. righteous:
Righteous: One who deems his/her resources not his/her own, but a gift from God. One who contributes wholeheartedly when encountering others in need.
Wicked: One who deems his/her resources as his/her own. One who withholds from contributing to another person’s need.
Jesus himself also used the analogy of sheep vs. goat to define what true righteousness is. Those who take care of the poor, the oppressed, and weak are doing unto Jesus himself.
What drew me to Jesus Christ is his own experience of injustice. He, being God himself, was born in a poor family. Then he was betrayed by his friends. More so, he was mis-trialed, humiliated, and beaten to death. Why? So that He can empathize with mankind.
I would like to pretend that I am able to do justice ALL the time, but I know that is a big fat lie. In fact, sometimes I purposefully avoid those situations because I am afraid of the risks involved. While it is in God’s heart for his people to ‘administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another’ everyday, every single moment, He also understands the limitation of mankind. Thus, grace via redemption of the cross.
Therefore, MKliving is one of my feeble pro-active attempts of shalom. The sermon was a good reminder.
Shalom & peace on earth…..