We typically translate shalom as "peace," but "peace" just doesn't really get us there. Shalom has a far more profound meaning. It's not just the absence of conflict, war, or even anxiety. It's also the presence of a deep contentment and a satisfying wholeness. It's the prevailing presence of a radical harmony in our souls and in our worlds. John Ortberg says it like this:
• In a world where shalom prevailed, all marriages would be healthy and all children would be safe.
• Those who have too much would give to those who have too little.
• Israeli & Palestinian children would play together on the West Bank; their parents would build homes for one another.
• In offices and corporate boardrooms executives would secretly scheme to help their colleagues succeed; they would complement them behind their backs.
• Tabloids would be filled with accounts of courage and moral beauty. Talk shows would feature mothers and daughters who love each other deeply, wives who give birth to their husband's children, and men who secretly enjoy dressing as men.
• Disagreements would be settled with honesty, grace, and civility. There would still be lawyers, maybe, but they would have really useful jobs like delivering pizza, which would be non-fat and low in cholesterol.
• Doors would have no locks; cars would have no alarms.
• Schools would no longer need police presence or even hall monitors; students and teachers and janitors would honor and value one another's work. At recess, every kid would get picked for a team.
• Divorce courts and battered-women shelters would be turned into community centers, which would be staffed by professional ball players.
• Every time one human touched another, it would be to express encouragement, affection, and joy. No one would be lonely or afraid.
• And in the center of the entire community would be its magnificent architect and most glorious resident: the God whose presence fills each person with unceasing splendor and ever-increasing delight.
May the Prince of Shalom come this Christmas!