SHAR SHALOM: prince of peace
“He Himself is our peace.” Ephesians 2:14
The meaning of His name:
I just got one of those missives that made my blood boil. You know the kind... all couched in sweet sounding spiritual platitudes with an underlying ugliness meant to hurt deep.
The more I read the madder I got. I wanted to rave, to bite back, to form a sarcastic reply and disseminate the paragraphs of sugar coated half-truths. And I wanted to show the message around to others who’d agree with me and do a little ranting of their own.
But as I got up to make myself some breakfast, I passed a pile of writing I’d intended to do. A stack of reference books about the Names of God, a book about Shalom and its biblical roots, a couple of Bibles ready to open and dig deep.
Gulp. In this frame of mind I could hardly be expected to write niceties. I was way to mad for that. Indignant, righteous anger.
Or maybe just mad.
After filling my empty belly with oatmeal I decided I’d better fill my angry soul with something better than the sour grapes I’d swallowed whole.
And that’s when I discovered the beauty of this name- Sar Shalom. Prince of Peace.
You see, I thought this title to be a sort of grand name all lit up in lights on a marquee. For some strange reason no one seems to be able to trace, it’s a name we take out and shine all up at Christmastime. We like this name. We like the royal loveliness of the way it sounds as we sing it.
But do we really grasp what it means when we wake up to find a nasty note in our mailbox?
The Hebrew word for peace is shalom. It is a word dripping with meaning. While most of us interpret peace as the absence of conflict, this word encompasses much, much more. It conveys a sense of tranquility and wholeness and completion. Shalom includes such benefits as health, satisfaction, success, safety, and prosperity.
It is everything we want in life, and everything we want for those we love.
But don’t forget the prince part. That’s important. A prince in ancient days was not merely a handsome figurehead waiting for his chance to snatch the throne. A prince was a man of power, a man with authority over his subjects.
A man to be feared and obeyed.
Uh oh, all those mean replies I’d been making up in my head were suddenly starting to look a little petty… and maybe a whole lot wrong.
Prince of peace.
I think this prince had a few things to say about not-so-nice messages and how He wants me to deal with them. Things like…
God blesses those who work for peace, and they will be called the children of God. (Mt 5:9)
God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are My followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted, too. (Mt 5:11,12)
Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants you to do, and He will bless you for it! (I Peter 3:9)
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! This Prince of Peace talked about working hard at peace (I Peter 3:11), about doing good to those who are downright nasty (Mt 5:47). When people spit in His face and made fun of Him, He chose to stay silent and pray for them (Mt 26:63). Then He let Himself be led to the Cross and nailed there— just so He could offer His enemies that irrevocable peace they so desperately needed.
Will I ever learn?
My heart response this morning showed me some real blackness still buried down deep. I was so ready to bury someone in sludge who’d slung a little mud my way. So quick to bite back. So slow to follow in the footsteps of the One I call my King… the Prince of Peace.
I’m all confessed now… and repentant… and ready to do what He says… so that I can have what He offers… and relish the peace in His wake.
And I’ve told you all this so that you and I can do this together, this living in the kingdom of the Prince of Peace. So that you know that I struggle because I know that you struggle too. This is no easy task. It requires a daily determination to die to all my own ugliness and to follow hard after the One who knows the way.
Are you with me?
From my heart,
For more on Jesus’ response when being mistreated, read I Peter 2 and 3… and John 18-19:30. And for more on peace, read Philippians 4:6-9 and John 14:27