For this week’s Bible study, we’re exploring the Hebrew word shalom. This word means “peace” and carries with it the idea of wholeness and completion. As we consider the painful realities of our broken and incomplete world, we can recognize our great need for shalom. The use of this word in the Bible gives us a vision that we can hold on to when the world around us is deeply fragmented. Let’s reflect on this word and reconsider its importance in our modern lives.
Shalom, or peace, is not only the absence of conflict but also the presence of connection and completion. Who and what do we need in order to experience connection and a sense of completion?
In this passage, we see how a woman found shalom in the midst of a chaotic crowd. As soon as she touched Jesus, she was made physically whole. Jesus recognized her faith in him and said, “go in peace,” or in other words, “continue to live in this whole and healed state.” In this story, the woman needed physical restoration and wholeness. But wholeness, or lack of wholeness, can affect other parts of our being as well. Where there is fragmentation in any part of our being, there is a wound of some kind, and it is a place where we need shalom to be restored.
Where do you need shalom to be restored in your body, mind, or spirit? Consider how Jesus responded to the woman in need. Reach out to him in prayer. Ask for his shalom to meet you where you are.
Consider your community for a moment. Where does shalom need to be restored? Jot down a list of your answers as a petition to God, and then circle one thing on the list. Prayerfully consider what practical steps you or your community can take to bring connection and completion to that one fragmented place.
In Ephesians, Paul is addressing the division between two different communities of people, namely Jews and Gentiles. His point is that through Jesus, these groups have been brought together into one family. The hostility that once made it impossible for these groups to get along was put to death on the cross. In Jesus’ family, we have access to peace with God and with one another. Take time to meditate on this fact.
Read verses 11-13 again. What is it like to be far away from God? Jesus provided a way to bring us close to God. Consider your personal story. How did Jesus bring you to God? What is it like to have peace with him?
We often use the figure of speech “a wall between us” to describe interpersonal conflict. Consider one relationship in your life that needs peace. Read verses 14 and 15 again, and then take a moment to imagine Jesus taking down the wall between you. What does the scene look like after Jesus destroys the wall of hostility?