The Shalom of God for Our City
Updated: Apr 15
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Ever heard that verse before? This is one of the popular passages you will hear at places like a high school graduation…it’s the equivalent of the 1 Corinthians 13 passage being read at a wedding…“love is patient, love is kind.” I am showing you this verse in the NIV, because that is the version I memorized way back when I graduated from college. Actually, I still have that NIV bible, with this verse underlined. The reason it is so popular for a graduation is because it is so encouraging about our future…this is God saying “I know the plans I have for you…they are good plans! I want to point out a key word from the message God shares here. “I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you.” The word translated here “prosper” is the Hebrew word “Shalom” – which is one of my absolute favorite Hebrew words. It is also used earlier in God’s message to his people in Jeremiah 29:7 “seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you”. When the word shalom is used in the bible it is typically translated “peace” but its meaning is more nuanced than this simple English translation communicates. Jon Collins, with the Bible Project, explains the meaning of shalom, saying: In the Bible the word peace can refer to the absence of conflict but it also points to the presence of something better in its place. Shalom means complete or whole, like a completed stone wall with no gaps. Shalom refers to something that is complex with lots of pieces that is in a state of completeness, wholeness. Its more than just “peace” that God has for us, for our community, for our nation – it’s a wholeness, it’s a work of God that restores and heals. That is the work that our city needs, our nation needs, in the midst of this pandemic. Given the typical translation of this word, imagine reading vs. 11 “I know the plans I have for you, plans to give you peace”. Is that what God wants? This kind of simpleton “peace” that just wants to wait this out, hoping we luck out and do not get hit by this pandemic? I hear a lot of prayers for peace right now, given all the anxiety, all the fear, all the unknown as it relates to coronavirus. The prayer I want to pray for us is not just “peace” in an ostrich stick his head in the ground kind of peace – oblivious to everything that’s going on, acting like everything is fine. What I want for us is SHALOM – the wholeness, completeness, the work of God that restores and heals and saves. It’s a work that makes us a new creation in Christ. This is the work that we need, that our city needs, our nation needs, in the midst of this pandemic.
* This post is the beginning of the Church Planting South Dawson April Newsletter Follow the link for the complete April update.