In the Bible, the word shalom is usually translated into English as “peace.” So when I think of shalom, peace is the first idea that comes to mind. Although there are some rather bloody moments in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament, I do believe that God wants His people to be peaceful, and he wants peace for them. So when I think of God’s shalom, I usually tend to branch the idea out of peace. In Jeremiah 29:1-7, God instructs His people to live among the people of Babylon. He doesn’t want them to become like them; but he does ask them to live peacefully amongst them. He tells them to plant gardens, build houses, and marry their sons and daughters. These are not things people tend to do when they are in a state of war; on the contrary, these are things people do after the war, when peace reigns in the land and they are free to go about their lives once more.
I’m beginning to realize that tension is a major theme with God. He wants us to live peacefully in the culture He places us in, but He also wants us to be separate and not actually be part of the culture. That creates a major tension, and I really think it will look different in each individual life It would be so much easier to just make a choice between living completely separate from culture or completely immersing in culture and ignoring God. But that is not what we are called to do. And now we have to figure out, each person for him or herself, what that will mean in their individual lives.
– Diana C.