The Shalom of God

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March 5, 2018

Howard R. Macy observes in the introduction to the newest edition of The Shalom of God that when he composed the first edition back in 1972, “The protracted war in Viet Nam stood at the heart of the social struggles.... The war embodied the hubris and deceit of power, the wanton use of force, injustices local and international, and much more. Words and images of ‘peace’ proliferated in varied and often deceptive ways. The people of the United States were sharply divided but clamoring for the war to end.”

Now, more than 40 years later, Howard writes that he is “saddened to find my country embroiled in similar folly, still mired in a protracted war in Afghanistan. It, too, is a war that embodies the hubris and deceit of power, the wanton use of force, injustices local and international, and much more. Yet I am encouraged by the breadth and creativity of peacemakers at work in this and many other concerns. Mostly I am more confident than ever of the shalom of God, ‘the gospel of peace.’ God will never give up on mending a shattered world. Nor will I.”

In the first of four sections, Howard observes, “The world hungers for peace. People have more than an appetite for peace; they are starved for peace. No doubt this points to a universal, timeless hope.... Quakers have shared this hunger and have acted for peace from their first generation.”

George Fox witnessed to this reality when he wrote in 1661, “Our principle is, and our Practice have always been, to seek peace and ensue it and to follow after righteousness and the knowledge of God, seeking the good and welfare and doing that which tends to the peace of all.”

But in a world of conflict, of tension, and of suffering – what does this mean for us as Friends of Jesus? How are we to be bearers of love and makers of peace?

In his study of the word shalom, Howard makes four suggestions: 

  1. Working for justice is working for peace – “Instead of seeking merely the absence of rockets, bombs, body counts, and collateral damage, let us seek wholeness and harmony—a harmony where justice and truth reign. Where the poor are not oppressed. Where humans do not destroy God’s world. Where all can be united in God.” 
  2. Accomplishing peace must be built on obedience to God – “As Friend T. Canby Jones said, ‘Holy obedience is doing God’s will before our own.’ This is a far cry from the appeal to do your own thing. Shalom in our lives comes not from struggling to have our own way, but from our active loyalty to God’s way.”
  3. To know Jesus is to know peace – “In the Old Testament the phrase ‘Yahweh is shalom,’ [and] here we find Paul saying Christ is the peace between us. Christ is destroying hostility and creating a new humanity. We note, too, that peace is restored through the cross.”
  4. Peace is a journey and a process (even when we don’t see results) – “It’s also important that we actively pursue making shalom, even when the task seems discouraging. We are not called to complete the project; we are called to be faithful and obedient.”
Howard’s pamphlet has four sections with discussion questions for each, making it a useful resource for any group interested in reading, discussing, and exploring The Shalom of God together. The ebook is available through Amazon now, and we’ll have printed pamphlets available on our website and at our office next week.

Thank you,
Eric Muhr

P.S. In this tenuous year of transition, Barclay Press must raise $25,000 in order to remain a going concern. So far this year, we’ve received $7,190 in donations and $2,370 in pledges, getting us 38 percent of the way to where we need to be by the end of the year. Thank you for your continuing prayer, for your words of encouragement, and for your support!


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