One late night coming home from Awana, my two oldest got into a fight. One blocked the door from the other which resulted in shouting and physical action. I yelled at them, sent to their rooms, and they lost their screen time for the next day.
After they were in their rooms for a bit, I realized, “Wait! I never really had them resolve their conflict!”
I spoke to each kid individually. I instructed them that they needed to apologize, forgive, and change their ways. Jesus had forgiven them of everything they had ever done. The least they could do is forgive their sibling for this one wrongdoing. I questioned them on what God expects from them in regards to kindness and turning the other cheek.
Then I forced them to apologize to each other and forgive. One did not want to forgive the other. Through clenched teeth he seethed out the words then stormed back into his room. I didn’t really feel like there was much resolved there. But they went through the motions of conflict resolution. So we all went to bed to see what the next day would bring.
I was shocked at their attitudes the next day. Since they had no screen time, they ended up interacting with each other kindly and peacefully! One helped the other with homework. They played Battleship together. They giggled together like they were best friends! It was amazing! It was a whole different kind of peace in our home since it was such a contrast to the night before.
What is peace?
Usually I define peace as quiet. The absence of noise. This could come at night when everyone else is asleep. Or if everyone is content doing their own thing. So basically, by my definition, peace would mean no interaction with any other human! It may be quiet, but this kind of peace isn’t fulfilling.
But that happy day made me think about a whole different definition of peace.
In this case, the peace was full of interaction. And it had started with conflict.
What is shalom?
Shalom is the Hebrew word for peace. In Shalom in Psalms the author states “Shalom is more than just an emotional state of mind. Shalom also means that the abused will get justice, wrongs will be made right, menacing foes will be refuted.”
When I read that definition, I immediately understood why that peaceful day had been so meaningful. It wasn’t just quiet or serene. But there was justice (no screen time, sent to room), wrongs made right (apologies and forgiveness, even though it was done begrudgingly), and the menacing foes had been refuted (Scriptural instructions to counter what they thought was acceptable).
Shalom in Jesus
This definition of shalom also applies to the peace believers have in God. He didn’t just shrug his shoulders about sin and say “that’s okay.” Jesus’ death was the payment for the penalty of sin. His death and resurrection righted the wrongs and satisfied the need for justice.
I will still enjoy a quiet day at home. But I will no longer call a quiet day a peaceful day. I will reserve the term of peace for the restored relationships that come with resolved conflict.