Letter from the Editor: Where God’s Peace Multiplies

Many a soul has experienced anxiety during the 2016 Election. As if the pre-election squabbling were not enough, Election Day results seemingly flipped the switch on fear throughout the country. Minorities fear for their safety. Immigrants—documented or not—fear deportation. Muslims fear backlash. Women fear misogyny. Everyone fears the worst.

As we grapple with the direction our nation is headed, and wait to see how it unfolds, peace feels far off. How do we acknowledge the very real fears of our fellow citizens and neighbors while pointing to the living hope we have in Christ, without minimizing the seriousness of these days? We do so with fear and trembling.

Humans have longed for true peace—the wholeness and rest of God’s shalom—since the garden rebellion.

Our society’s desire for peace will be magnified in days to come, although it’s not necessarily a new yearning. Humans have longed for true peace—the wholeness and rest of God’s shalom—since the garden rebellion. This issue of Christ and Pop Culture Magazine speaks to this yearning for peace and how easy it is to seek it in cultural substitutes. Liz Wann points to the obsession we have for high-cost dream weddings as one way we seek shalom apart from God. In “Dream Weddings and Our Search for Wholeness,” Wann warns that weddings were never designed to bear the weight of our expectations for perfect peace:

”Perhaps Finkel is providing a middle ground for us between the hyper-romanticized wedding days—that can possibly set us up for disappointment—and the disillusioning reality of marriage, which can lead to divorce. We need to arrive at a place where the spectrum even out and closes the gap between these two sides. The middle ground does seem to lend itself well to balance, and balance produces shalom. This Hebrew word for peace speaks to the presence of wholeness. So what we are looking for on our wedding day, and what can seem elusive in marriage, is a sense of being complete and full. Shalom is the answer found between the utopian yearning of the wedding and the dystopian disillusionment of marriage. The wedding day is like the virtue and innocence of young love, but the reality of sin corrupts the flowering leaf. And how we ultimately find shalom between the two sides of sin and virtue is by receiving and giving grace.”

Designing the perfect wedding is just one way our hunt for shalom is off target. Jeffery Porter’s feature, “Augmented Peace and Virtual Shalom,” looks at the promises of technology to deliver wholeness on demand through augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR):

“With AR we can imagine how our real world, in a perfectly peaceful state, might appear, and then afford us the chance experience that world immediately. Futurists such as Pagagiannis have marketed AR as a veritable high tech shortcut to shalom. However, we should be leery of such shortcuts.”

Technology has its perks, to be sure. But there really are no shortcuts to true wholeness, to God’s shalom. God is at work in us, doing the slow but sure work of renewal that will continue for all our days. As God is making us whole, He sends us out to cultivate and multiply the knowledge of His shalom in the world. This is what Matthew Wiley calls us to in his feature, “Overcoming Passivity to Be God’s Peacemakers.” God’s peace comes to us so that we can sow peace wherever we are—and that will take steady, active effort:

“My hope is that we are not deceiving our hearts into thinking that planning for peace is the same as making it, or believing that coming up with solutions to the injustices of the world is actually by itself justice. As I said previously, it is a good thing that we are having conversations about the injustices that surround us and how best to respond to them. But I know that there is a strong temptation to become content with just that, believing ourselves to be peacemakers when really we have been peacetalkers.”

Talk truly is cheap; especially so when it comes to peace. Words can go only so far, then we must act. We must actively demonstrate peace with our actions—drawing near to the downcast, freeing the captive, righting wrongs, standing in the gaps, and even sacrificing our lives. We can cultivate an atmosphere where God’s shalom can multiply, even in these high-anxiety days. With fear and trembling, we can be present with the least in this world who need God’s peace the most.

—Erin Straza