Blessed are the SHALOM-makers, for they shall be called sons of God.
– Matthew 5:9
Growing up, I had a tough time with Matthew 5:9, because in my mind it had two interpretations:
- Blessed are the kids who get beat up on the playground, who don’t fight back, for they shall be called sons of God.
- Blessed are the police officers, hall monitors, and referees who break up fights, for they shall be called sons of God.
Those interpretations might be true. I’m not a biblical scholar. But what if we missed the real point? What if this verse is actually way bigger than we thought? Or I thought. What if this verse is actually saying: “Blessed are the entrepreneurs and leaders who make the organizations, the systems, the services, the processes, the products, the technology that produces health, prosperity, rest, welfare, etc. Blessed are the abundance-makers.”
I think a pretty compelling argument from scripture can be made that God is speaking more broadly than just the oversimplified peacemaker translation that many of us have heard. And if so, this suggests that God cares about holistic human flourishing, not only about saving souls. God apparently cares about providing a good product/service at a fair price, creating jobs and turning a profit. And this is new news to a lot of people – especially small business owners. But the news gets better. Not only does God seem to care about these things, but He then pronounces a blessing on the leaders – the abundance-makers, the health-makers, the prosperity-makers, the job-makers, and the peace-makers – and calls them “Sons of God”. This is a big deal that most churches don’t talk about enough.
So how do we make ourselves into Shalom-makers? What do we have to do to be called “Sons of God”? Is it enough just to create jobs and turn a profit? Or is there more we must do? In the next chapter we will define a flourishing small business. But first we need to look at the encouraging but paradoxical path to being a Shalom-maker.
If Shalom is “the way things ought to be”, then trying to make ourselves into a Shalom-maker is a silly objective. Trying to make yourself into Shalom-maker is like trying to make water flow downhill. No one asks how to make water flow downhill. You don’t need to coach, incentivize, inspire, instruct, lead, manage, motivate, or train water to flow downhill. That is simply what water does; flowing downhill is what water was designed to do. In fact, if water isn’t flowing downhill, there is only one explanation – there is an obstacle in the way.
Shalom works the same way. We were created to be Shalom makers – is it the way we ought to be. It is encouraging to realize that creating and leading a flourishing business not inherently a Sisyphean task. In fact, God designed us and our organizations to flourish and He blesses us for our efforts in that direction. But this isn’t our day to day experience. Running a business feels more like hand-to-hand combat than “flourishing”. So what’s the disconnect?
If we are not seeing Shalom in and around us, there is only one explanation – there are obstacles in the way.