The contrast between an eighteen year old in the late fifties versus the late sixties is stark.
A young man in the fifties might have worn a white tee shirt with neatly creased blue jeans and sneakers crowned with a short well combed haircut. Ten years later his little brother likely was wearing frayed bell-bottom jeans with holes. The ever present tee shirt was colorfully tie-dyed and partially covered by long stringy hair, perhaps tied back in a ponytail. The bright white sneakers were replaced with leather sandals designed not for work but demonstrations and lounging. Respectful language such as please, thank you, and yes sir was likely a relic replaced by colloquialisms such as “hey man, cool baby, and peace”. The language fit the new mindset that rejected authority, established institutions and traditional values. In their place was a spontaneity and desire for personal relationships expressing love as an expanded consciousness. As a group they were idealistic young people desiring to make the world a better place in terms of justice and expressed emotion. These would be world changers were a breed never before seen on the global stage. Not every young person fit this mold, but those that did often were referred to as hippies or peace children.
A hippie greeted another not with a handshake and “Hello. I’m glad to meet you”, but with the index and middle finger forming the peace sign along with a verbalized “Peace”. They might believe they looked and acted like Jesus Christ. For some, Jesus was a superstar.
Peace in the 1960’s focused on the external absence of hostile words, feelings, and actions. Peace in Jesus’ day emphasized an inner and spiritual meaning. The Hebrew society Jesus belonged to used the word “shalom”, translated into English as peace, as both a greeting and farewell. Shalom, however has a much richer connotation than its English counterpart. It referred not merely to the absence of hostility and turmoil between individuals and societies, but also the notion of positive blessing, especially in terms of a right relationship with God.
It is not a self-satisfied false peace that ignores suffering, but a compassionate peace that longs for God’s shalom to be present with everyone and motivates action to help bring it about. Peace is listed in the New Testament book of Galatians as a fruit or characteristic of one who follows Jesus Christ as their savior, mentor, and friend. The fullness of the Hebrew greeting, “Shalom”, included a health, wholeness, and integrity that come from God Himself. It was uttered to another as a prayer for God to tangibly bestow these things. The person offering the greeting or farewell of peace desired to be the vehicle through which a blessing flowed and was bestowed upon its recipient.
Father’s day is a once a year occurrence that fell last Sunday. It was a day to share love, honor and esteem with those who are Father’s whether your own or not. It is a day to recognize and applaud some of the best qualities anyone could demonstrate such as courage, protection and provision. Recognition often brings emulation. When the self-sacrifices often necessary to live out these qualities are added, it makes setting aside a special day of recognition worthwhile.
Father’s Day next year will be enhanced, however, if every Father, indeed if everyone, seeks each day to extend a biblical shalom to those they interact with each day. Who would not desire to receive a tangible blessing of health and wholeness in every part of who they are? May each reader hear the words and receive the blessing behind the words of Jesus in John 20:21, “Peace be with you!”