Looking at Shalom through a lens of Justice

by Hilary Horn

By Hilary Horn

Peace = shä·lōm’, שָׁלוֹם – completeness, soundness, welfare, peace

Peace isn’t just a fluffy feeling, or something iconic from the 60s. Peace or shalom, is much more than that.

Photo taken by Hilary Horn in South Africa

Often when I get asked to speak about “social justice” people expect me to speak about my work with various injustices throughout the world like sex trafficking, child-led homes, or something that sounds really fancy and dangerous. These are all great, and part of “justice” when we walk it out, but I often think we get a perspective that is often too highly uplifted. We rather focus on things that sound more thrilling than working on our own hearts. We forget about the other aspects that encompass justice – one of those being transformed as a person of peace or shalom.

What I have found is that many do not realize that Righteousness/Justice/Peace are virtual synonyms as nouns in the bible. They mean life with all relationships, with God, others, self, and the rest of creation.  Life is well ordered, so that life is full of shalom or well being, all things flourishing as God designed them to be. Justice is the pursuit of shalom that God intended for the world and humanity and the righteous person is one who contributes to such life. A righteous person is someone that brings justice and peace. It’s naturally part of their character.

Photo taken by Hilary Horn in Haiti

So when we are walking in righteousness, peace fills the earth; justice is shown. You cannot separate them from each other. The kingdom of heaven comes down in dark places. We are walking in what Jesus has for us and bringing the kingdom to earth – true peace.

When we walk in these truths, justice comes. When we walk in the sacrifice and obedience to what Christ calls us – that is when we see justice and change in our world. That is where we see peace in our communities.

Photo taken by Hilary Horn in the Philippines

What I have learned through walking in what Jesus has called us into is God is always in control and his love never wavers. No matter if our best planned out intentions don’t always work out the way we expected. Justice isn’t just about saving lives or whatever romantic view we have of changing the world. Justice and peace starts with the very core of our hearts. His love for us does not waver on our journey to be a righteous person. He is willing to journey with us through the deserts and valleys so that we become more defined and refined in His purposes and character.

Walking out justice, is truly a process. Being a person of peace is a journey. If you truly believe in the gospel, then you have to believe that it matters not just for your personal salvation and blessings, but also for God’s pursuit of restoration, redemption and reconciliation for the entire world.

Photo taken by Hilary Horn in Dominican Republic

The “now, and not yet” Kingdom. It’s bringing restoration and redemption to earth of how God intended it.

The gospel isn’t just a ticket to heaven or a fluffy nice feeling of peace. As Christians, we should be about the full work of God: yes evangelism, but also the work of shalom, restoration and redemption.

People don’t want to hear that because changing our hearts is much more difficult than doing a one time mission trip or social awareness event. Most of us have this deep desire to change the world. But what we lack is a posture of humility that we need to become more aware of. We have to start realizing that “I too, must change.” I too must first learn to listen and learn. I too, must become a person of peace. 

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