As we join God as Everyday Peacemakers who see, immerse, and contend, restoration—shalom—springs to life in us, our interpersonal relationships, within local issues of systemic injustice, and throughout international conflicts. Shalom takes years, is always costly, shows up in myriad forms, and usually surprises us when it arrives.
It looks like my friends Ben, an Israeli Jew, and Moira, a Palestinian Muslim, who both lost family members to the conflict. They are former enemy-neighbors who now refer to themselves as a family who co-creates a mutually beneficial future by teaching all of the children of their divided land to choose love over fear and reconciliation over revenge. It looks like my Egyptian-American friend, Catherine, who offers artistic avenues for healing and rehabilitation for incarcerated kids. Shalom looks like my Mexican friend, Samuel, who created a simple set of raised garden beds in Tijuana called Border Farms to remind recently deported men of their dignity and value through the creation of jobs. It looks like what is happening because of my friends, Bethany and Matt and Sandra and Kevin, who have chosen to rescue kids from the foster care system and become family with them.
Shalom is what is happening because my friend Jamie said, “Yes!” to an opportunity to tutor a teenage Syrian refugee and my friends Andy, Jamie, and Dawnette who are utilizing extra bedrooms to create a semblance of home for newly arrived Syrian and Iraqi refugees. It looks like men and women walking the kill zone of East Oakland on Friday nights with my friends Ben and Gynelle in an effort to decrease gun-related violence through peaceful, relational presence.
Shalom looks like Connor, the fatherless kid in my neighborhood, flourishing in school, growing in confidence, learning to throw and catch a baseball, and embracing his belovedness by me and, ultimately, by God. It looks like derelict side yards turned into a neighborhood garden oasis where those with no property can co-create beautiful things and find belonging again.
The shalom that God is making and that we get to be apart of ushering in looks like a world were sisters and brothers no longer kill their sisters and brothers and where women and children are no longer exploited for the pleasures of men. It’s a world in which no human beings are owned by other, more powerful human beings.
The shalom that God is making is one in which senseless gun violence no longer produces dead kids in our streets and where immigrants and refugees no longer hide in fear in the shadows of overcrowded apartments. It’s a world where human beings are no longer trapped in cages, where addiction no longer has power, and where hunger and thirst no longer plague humanity.
This shalom that I write of is possible only because God waged peace in Jesus and it worked. Joining the Spirit in making that peace real in our world is the adventure that we’ve been saved into.
This is part 4 of 4 of an article that was modified from my book, Mending the Divides: Creative Love in a Conflicted World and recently published in Fuller Magazine. Check out this short VIDEO to learn more about Mending the Divides.