What are the two words you'll hear more
often than any others in the Middle East? In Egypt, it's
Salaam, meaning peace. The typical Muslim greeting is Salaam
allekum, which means "peace to you." Christians use the same
phrase, but with a shade of difference say Salaam ma'akum,
"peace with you." The Israelis say Shalom, a biblical word
meaning "peace, prosperity, well-being, and wholeness." It's
used in greeting and in saying goodbye.
Peace is hard to come by these days in this part of the
world. Violence and destruction are daily occurrences. The
best efforts of politicians and military leaders seem only to
complicate the process. As I share these thoughts, I'm once
again in Egypt, and near the volcanic events in Israel and
Palestine. It seems so strange to me that the world can be a
virtual paradise if humans could just learn to live and let
live. The beauty that surrounds us, the peace and tranquility,
the niceties of service, and the flowing of the water toward
the sea---all seem so quiet. It makes us forget, for a while,
the problems created by the deadly spiral of violence.
Paul taught that true peace is an act of spiritual
transformation, brought about by reconciliation with God.
Ephesians 2:11-17 gives us a clear picture of God's plan for
peace on earth.
First, Paul reminds us that we were "without Christ, and
aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the
covenants of promise."
Second, we "were without hope and without God in the
world." I can't imagine a much more lost state than to be
isolated from the very provisions of God for salvation and
well-being in this life.
Third, Paul indicates that those who "were far off have
been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our
Finally, Paul declares that Christ has broken down the
dividing wall of separation and hostility between Gentile and
Jew "that he might create in himself one new humanity in place
of the two, thus making peace."
Does that sound too good to be true? It's the glorious
reality that Christ brought. In his final days with his
followers he said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to
you. I do not give it to you as the world gives. Do not let
your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid" (John
Let's go out today and demonstrate the peace of God. Let's
be peacemakers, not troublemakers. Let's try to end the
hostility between neighbors, strangers, and nations. And,
above all else, let's have peace within our homes and with
those nearest to us. If we have peaceful sanctuaries in our
own homes and communities, we can go out to face a hostile
world and be instruments of God's peace.