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Read: Galatians 5:19-23

19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness,20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.

This week the featured “fruit of the Spirit” is peace. Remember, “peace” in the Bible is “shalom”. Shalom means peace, health, harmony, and wholeness – and it may be manifest in every aspect of one’s life. Shalom is a blessed state that comes from life lived in love, faith, wisdom, righteousness and grace. Someone living in a state of shalom is living a very good life, and copes with the potholes and pitfalls of life.

Shalom is different than the modern American-style Christianity that focuses on prosperity. The so-called “prosperity gospel” offers a formula and strategy for achieving success or prosperity. I’ve heard prosperity preachers actually tell their listeners to find successful people to hang out with and befriend, because success “rubs off” – and don’t hang around with people with problems, who struggle in their life. Wow. That really fails the WWJD test (What Would Jesus Do?) doesn’t it? The most mature, faithful Christians I’ve known have faced and do face challenges.

Shalom is not a path that avoids problems or adversity or need. The faith of the Bible has always been corporate, not merely individualized. God created “the people of God”, a nation, and was concerned with them as a whole. In the New Testament God creates “the church”, which is a comprehensive fellowship in Christ – we are the “family of God”, the “Bride of Christ”, even “the Body of Christ”. Shalom is not established in isolation, but is found through fellowship. One of the sour fruit of the American “me generation” Christianity is the individualization of faith. While faith is personal, it is also corporate – that, in fact, is the more mature expression of faith, and is faithful to the vision and mission Christ gave us. If you are not connected in faith with others, you will not know shalom, the peace of God.

Shalom,

Pastor Rob Nystrom