In that twilight world between sleep and awakening, when the last wisps of dreamland fade, something within me often stalls, before my engines rev up. It can be a sense of well-being, or it can be a sense of dread. It’s only a transient feeling, but it can add flavour to the rest of the day, so it is significant enough to think about.
And here’s what I’m thinking. When everything in your world just clicks and seems to be in harmony, then you have reached a form of shalom in your life and, in my case, it’s reflected as my sense of well-being when I wake up and prepare for the day ahead. Yet, in order to wake up with a sense of dread, I only need one or two things to be misfiring. Achieving ra (chaos, unease and disruption) is a lot easier than achieving shalom, I have found. Just one or two aspects of my life that are less than perfect is all that is needed for ra to reign. How on earth do pastors manage to sleep at all? It’s the same for me when I’m writing books. Instinctively I know that the book is finished when, in terms of the content, there is complete shalom in my spirit and all vestiges of ra have dissipated.
So ra is a more natural state for us human beings, burdened as we are by our fallen natures and the fallen natures of those around us.
For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:20-21)
To achieve shalom in our lives, even in those of us who are already redeemed, there has to be a desire. For the redeemed, of course, it is not as central to our purpose as reaching others with the Gospel, however the Lord has led us in this task. Living in shalom should not be the main priority, but a wonderfully welcome result of the Christian life. If we are honestly fulfilling God’s purpose in our life, then, as we shall see, we will have shalom and, indeed, this peacefulness and contentment should be a reflection to the outside world of Jesus living within us and, therefore, a great witness to unbelievers.
There are some Christians I know that just radiate shalom. They project such peacefulness even when you know that their lives are not that easy. These are people who have found shalom among he storms in their lives, who have entered into such a partnership with Jesus, that they have allowed him to calm these storms. This, after all, is one of the offers he makes for us:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
But – oh dear – there are others who radiate ra, who bring chaos, misunderstandings, division wherever they go. Unfortunately and sadly, there are some Christians who fit this description. Brutal words may be needed for this latter case, as my advice would be to avoid them like the plague, otherwise they can drag you down and squeeze any shalom you may already have out of you. How unchristian, you may say, but I’m thinking of the Kingdom here, not our individual well-being, as these people, however they have got to where they are, could well be unwitting agents of Satan, sent to disrupt ministries. Of course, on the other hand, these people do need help and you will find that they attract sincere Christians who try to help them, out of the very best intentions. Unless you have direct leading and a calling to counsel these people, I would advise you to stay away, especially if God is doing great things in your life at the moment.
I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. (Romans 16:17)
Then, of course, there are those who bring ra on purpose and knowingly. There are many warnings against such people:
For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (Matthew 24:24)
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? (Matthew 7:15-16)
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. (2 Peter 2:1-3)
So, be vigilant, be alert. We need shalom in our lives. The starting point, of course, is when Jesus enters our life.
This is an extract from the book, Shalom, available for £10 at https://www.sppublishing.com/shalom-239-p.asp
Why are some people so disruptive?