Translating words from other languages can be a tricky business. The challenge is that language is not just about matching words, it is about interpreting expressions of culture. Like many other words, the word shalom can have multiple meanings depending on the context. Traditionally the word can be a way to say both hello and goodbye, but it can also to refer to a desire for peace.

If we want to get into broad-based theoretical discussions about meaning, we can ask a lot of complicated questions. Is shalom a place? A destination? A state of being? Will we know when we arrive at shalom? Or is it like the Holy Spirit? Is shalom an elusive wind, restless and always moving? Are we called to pursue shalom, though we may never reach a point of personal satisfaction or world peace? Perhaps shalom is about making peace with our own holy discontentedness, an ever-present quest to lay our burdens at the feet of Christ and seek his kingdom each and every day.

Let’s get practical for a moment. Life can be busy and stressful. It can be hard to escape the realities of the moment and dream of nebulous, seemingly impossible goals of societal harmony. World peace seems to somehow work out at the end a feel-good movie, but it doesn’t always translate to the daily grind of angry people and broken families. In addition, scripture tells us that our sinful nature is always going to be a huge barrier to reconciliation and true progress on any level.

Seeking shalom, it would seem, has a major set of challenges.

And yet, thanks to the grace of God, there is always hope. Incredible, inspiring hope. John 16:33 says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” That verse provides amazing reassurance, and a reason to keep working towards the restoration of God’s kingdom here on earth. We experience a lot of failure here at Kingdom Causes Bellflower for the simple reason that life happens. Despite the difficulties and the daily heartaches, we keeping working towards a goal of community transformation. It takes diligence, patience, and the willingness to sometimes work tirelessly with one person at a time.

As you go about your day, don’t be afraid to dream big. There are a lot of needs out there, and that can be discouraging. There are also countless opportunities to pursue relationships and thriving neighborhoods. Ask God where you can be used, and how your gifts can be utilized to show love to your neighbors.