A Future Awaits

Like many people, I’ve had this country on my mind a lot lately. With the Orlando shootings, the presidential election, #BlackLivesMatter and so much more, there’s a lot to cover — aka a lot of conversations to avoid with your in-laws.

I look at Facebook and all I see is anger and sadness. I read articles and think pieces and they’re all desperate to point the finger at someone or something to explain the injustice that happens on a daily basis.

It’s the Republicans’ fault!

It’s the NRA’s fault!

Imagine if that was our reaction to others — inviting ourselves into their world and getting to know them.

It’s political correctness!

It’s the media!

And I just have to stop and ask: What are we trying to accomplish? It seems like we’re hoping someone burns for fill-in-the-blank so that fill-in-the-blank goes away forever. Right?

Then I came across Psalm 37:37:

“Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace.”

Did you see that last line? “A future awaits.” It filled me with joy! A future? Are you kidding me?! When’s the last time we had one of those? But then the last part of that sentence stung a little: "a future awaits those who seek peace."

So, uh, what is peace?

The Hebrew word used in that and SO MANY other verses is shalom. And like many other Hebrew words, there’s a lot of meat in there. The word shalom means more than just a literal “there is no war” type of peace; it means wholeness, harmony, and things being in their rightful place.

Back to the whole America thing: When we point a finger at our brothers and sisters, is that harmony? When we demand justice through violence and destruction, is that what God intended?

But you know what seeking shalom doesn’t mean? It doesn’t mean do nothing. It doesn’t mean stay quiet. It doesn’t mean don’t get mad when you encounter injustice of some kind. So don’t take this post as some sort of “let’s all just get along” type of concession. Because if I’m being honest, I am angry when I see black people gunned down for a traffic violation. I am angry when I see the rich taking advantage of the poor. I am angry when I see news reports of yet another mass shooting and our government does little to prevent it. Does my anger make me righteous, though? Does that restore shalom to the world?

Another big thing worth pointing out in Psalms 37:37 is that “seeking” is a verb. It’s an action. And Jesus showed us in Luke 19:1-10 exactly what “seeking” looks like with the story of Zacchaeus:

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

Jesus was confronted with someone who represents everything He is against, and instead of pointing the finger and verbally condemning Zacchaeus, what does he do? Jesus invites himself over for dinner.


Imagine if that was our reaction to others — inviting ourselves into their world and getting to know them.

So in my ranty, roundabout way, I’m saying it’s time we all check our intentions when disagreeing or expressing our anger. But what do I mean specifically? Here are a couple of thought-starters:

• We should stop Liking/sharing/posting videos/articles where someone “DESTROYS” another person. Don’t hero people trying to separate; hero people trying to unite.

• This one’s tough: When faced with a differing opinion from someone, ask that person why they think the way they do, and then actually, truly listen with the intention of building on a relationship, not trying to win an argument. Ask questions! If you feel yourself getting mad that you aren’t getting to say what you believe, that’s probably a sign that you aren’t seeking shalom.

• We should all be praying for our government and officials, but let’s stop praying for things to go the direction we think they should. Instead, let’s pray that our leaders can find compromise for the many nuanced issues that challenge our country. And then when you’re done praying, literally write your congressperson or representative to let them know. When it’s voting time, once again, don’t hero people trying to separate; hero people trying to unite.

Got any other ideas? Let me know! I’m trying to figure all this out just as much as anyone else.

In conclusion, let’s do what Jesus intended in John 17:20-23 when He prayed the following:

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

When we seek peace, we show the world who Jesus is. So, let’s stop turning our neighbors into enemies, and let’s start seeking shalom.

Then, let's see what happens.

Ike Peters is a husband to Alexis Peters, father of two boys (Elliott, 2 years old, and Ira, 6 months old), and a Senior Copywriter at Saatchi & Saatchi X.

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