A word used as a Jewish greeting and farewell, typically translated to mean peace.
But shalom implies so much more.
I once heard a theologian define shalom this way: "Shalom means all is as it should be." He went on to describe shalom as a kind of integrity: things are what they appear to be. No deception, no duplicity, no confusion. On an individual level, shalom-ness is integrity of person - it is being the same inside and out, in our thoughts and in our practice, in private and in public.
We are all works in progress. I am not today the same person that I was a year ago. And a year from now, I will be different from the person I am today.
We are all works in progress. I understand that. And yet, I find it very difficult to understand and relate to another who seems frenetically changeable, someone who says one thing this morning and something quite contrary this afternoon, a person who behaves one way in company and a completely different way in private, someone who in a single conversation presumes to maintain and defend completely contrary philosophies.
It makes me feel like Alice, trying to have a serious conversation with the Cheshire Cat. Or like the Psalmist, dismayed by those who say "Peace, peace," when there is no peace. I am confused. I don't know how to engage. Is this Person A today, or Person B?
We are all works in progress. I understand that. And I am thankful - so incredibly thankful - for the assurance in Scripture that Jesus - Jesus himself! - is my peace, my shalom. Where there is duality of character or a conflict of values or motives within, Jesus creates...is creating...one man, a unified person of integrity. Someone who is the same inside and out, in private and in public, in thought and in deed.
A new creation, in whom there is no deception, no duplicity, no confusion.
One day, I will be a person of whom it can be truly said, "All is as it should be."
And he [Jesus] came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. - Ephesians 2:17