To Be Made Whole
I have a small mattress shop in central Illinois and, like many other businesses 2020 has not been kind. In January, prior to the pandemic, a patch on our roof broke, sending a waterfall into our space when the snow melted. Over the following three months, I found myself tossing around the concept of what it means to be made whole. I had one definition and the insurance company had another. Then, first in July and then again in September, our shop was burglarized. After the July burglary, I felt I was made whole while in September we were unable to receive compensation for our loss and I felt incomplete. Much of the narrative on race and culture is fixated on this same subject as well. The idea is that society itself owes specific groups of people in this country something that would make them whole. This concept is the basis of the justice system. But disagreement comes into play with the various ideas of what wholeness looks like.
History of Peace
The original audience and writers of scripture had a term for wholeness called ‘shalom’ which we translate to ‘peace’, but the word ‘peace’ doesn't really do ‘shalom’ justice. We equate peace to mean the absence of war while shalom means completeness, or wholeness, which encompasses all aspects of life including health, prosperity, victory, and relationships. The writers and original audience understood this peace can only come from God and, specifically, His presence, making God the source of perfect wholeness. In Judges 6:24 a follower of God named Gideon built an altar to God and named it Yahweh Shalom or “The LORD is Peace.” Or in Numbers 6:25-26, in instructions on how to give a priestly blessing, God instructed the priest to say “The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.” Then in Isaiah 26:3 we see that the focus of our minds has a direct correlation to attaining this wholeness or completeness found in God's perfect peace: "The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You.” This idea of peace carried over to the New Testament as Jesus comes to be the human representation of God and the Prince of Peace. Jesus then gives us His peace as He says in John 14:27- "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” Then we go full circle in 2 Thessalonians 3:16 when the peace that is given is connected with the God’s presence. “Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!”
When Jesus traveled, before He entered a town or city, He would send roughly 70 of his disciples ahead of Him. The disciples of Jesus who were in His presence carried a peace with them and were sent ahead of Jesus to prepare the way. They were to not talk to anyone on the way as if the package of peace they had could be lost in transition. The disciples were instructed to have nothing of value on their person, but this tangible peace as they entered homes. As soon as they entered a home they were to say “Peace be on this House” as if the package was delivered. If the peace was received and allowed to rest there then they were allowed to stay in that house and were granted the authority and power to bring healing to that home as they proclaimed the kingdom of God.
Following Jesus death and resurrection, He appeared among His disciples with the greeting “Peace to you.” This was the first time we are told of Jesus using this greeting. Then Jesus repeats the same greeting after showing His crucifixion wounds as if to pass on a baton.
“Jesus repeated His greeting, “Peace to you!” And He told them, “Just as the Father has sent me, I’m now sending you.” Then, taking a deep breath, He blew on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. I send you to preach the forgiveness of sins—and people’s sins will be forgiven. But if you don’t proclaim the forgiveness of their sins, they will remain guilty.” (John 20:21-23 TPT)
Something shifted during this encounter with Jesus. There is something different in the nature of these two sendings, the first when Jesus sent out the disciples before Him into town carrying peace, the second this sending out. “Just as the Father has sent me, I’m now sending you.” That seems like an unrealistic task, He is Jesus, the perfect one and the only one who has seen God. The disciples, and us for that matter, have a history on the wrong side of the tracks and many of us have track marks on our arms. How on earth can we be expected to operate at that kind of standard? Jesus is God with us or God in the flesh and we are, well, flesh. Then I read verse 22 as Jesus blew on them that same breath that caused Adam’s lungs to pump and said “Receive the Holy Spirit.” God with us, Emmanuel, offers us the Holy Spirit, the third person of the GodHead, now it all makes sense. Jesus spoke one evening to a religious leader named Nicodemus of the need for every person to be born again with a new spirit. Now that Jesus paid the price, we are able to have a clean slate. The wounds Jesus showed His disciples were proof of His bearing the sins of the world’s past and future. We, too, can stand anew with the track marks of our past before the cross and show how Jesus’ resurrection made us new. The only catch is we have to receive. The gift has been given, but we still have the choice whether we want it or not.
The Gift of Giving
Wholeness to you, Christian, and wholeness to me is what Jesus gives. It is not like anything the world gives because it is the key to life itself. We all have things we regret and would never consider ourselves perfect, but, in Jesus, we as a body of believers are perfected by His sacrifice. We are brand new in His sight, presented before Him as holy, blameless and above reproach. If indeed we continue in the faith, firmly established and steadfast, and not moving away from the good news of what Christ accomplished for us. In receiving His Spirit, we have God with us, just like Jesus. If we keep our mind focused on that fact and allow ourselves to operate from that mindset, we will then embody His perfect peace. This is the tangible presence of God that we can then carry into the world. Since we received the Holy Spirit, He is with us and is ours for the taking every day. We simply must receive Him. It is in the taking up of this Peace that we operate from a place of holiness, because, like peace, holiness is a part of the nature of God. It is here that we truly are what the Bible calls ‘image bearers’ because we are then able to reflect our created purpose. What is that purpose? For now, until Jesus returns, it is the same as that of Jesus- to preach the forgiveness of sins so that people will turn from their sins and be forgiven. Our preaching is informing people of the good news of what has already happened in hopes that they will receive the same gift we have been given. We have peace, or shalom, with God and He has empowered us to spread that Peace to the world through the message of forgiveness of sins. How can one be a peacemaker if they harness hate, prejudice, and unforgiveness in their hearts towards those who God breathes on? Much of what many call ‘social justice’ is in opposition to being a peacemaker. Furthermore, much of what is considered justice lacks mercy.
Next post we will dig deeper into the pathway and nature of the peacemaker.