Peace. It is a word that we so often hear, it is something we long for, yet it so often slips through our fingers.
But just what is peace, anyway?
According to the dictionary, peace is:
– freedom from disturbance;
– tranquility; a state or period in which there is no war or a war has ended;
– freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions;
– harmony in personal relations; a state or period of mutual concord between governments.
When used as a verb, peace is defined as:
– to be;
– to become;
– or keep silent or quiet.
As I look at this definition, it occurs to me that peace is a fleeting concept, one that we may experience briefly, but one that always flits away. I mean, we all experience freedom from disturbance at times, but it never lasts. Treaties are signed between countries, but that state of peace is usually transient at best. How many of us always have harmony in personal relations? How long does our restfulness, quiet, silence, stillness, seclusion, solitude, etc. last? Without argument, it can be said that the world’s fleeting peace is completely dependent upon our circumstances.
Why is this?
Because when the world tries to achieve peace, it does so by trying to fix the symptoms. For example, lack of peace results in hunger, crime, war, etc. The world’s response is to feed the hungry and punishes criminals and runs up white flags. But it does not–and cannot!–fix the root of the problem, which is sin itself.
This, however, is not the type of peace that God promises. In contrast, God’s peace is permanent. It heals the root of the problem, sin itself, and thus, God’s peace is different from any peace that we can find in this world.
The word “peace” in English is a translation of the word “Salom” in Hebrew. Salom has a broader definition, and it includes the ideas of totality or completeness, success, fulfillment, wholeness, harmony, security and well-being. Thus, the peace that God brings is not necessarily freedom from conflict and problems; rather, it is a state of tranquility and security in the midst of conflict. Isn’t this what Jesus meant when He said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 ESV).
In other words, the peace that God gives us through Jesus Christ does not take us out of a sinful world. Rather, it gives us His peace while we live within it.
It is interesting that all other religions attempt to achieve peace with God by doing works and following rules. Jesus’ peace, by comparison, comes to us as a gift: “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.” (Ephesians 2:14 ESV)
The peace of God is something that is actually congruent with His character. Check out this text: “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely…” (1 Thess 5:23a ESV — See alsoJudges 6:24,Romans 15:33,16:20,1 Cor. 14:33,Phil 4:9, etc.). In other words, God doesn’t just give peace, He is peace.
Still seem a bit abstract?
Let’s look at a couple of examples of Jesus’ peace in the Bible. The Gospels record two different stories about storms on the Sea of Galilee. Both times the disciples were panicking. They were sure they would go under. Meanwhile, where was Jesus? During one storm, He was asleep in the back of the boat (SeeMatt. 8:23-27), and in the second storm, He was out walking over the top of the waves (SeeMatt. 14:22-33)! Jesus’ Peace is so secure that in the midst of a storm, Jesus could both sleep and overcome!
Jesus’ peace is also permanent: “‘For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10 ESV)
What then, is Jesus’ peace? It is a permanent tranquility, a state of mind that can be ours even amidst problems. It is achieved by resolving the root of the problems, sin itself, and it is a gift, a gift to you and to me, one vital aspect of Jesus’ greatest gift of all, the gift of leaving heaven to come to this earth as a tiny baby, that greatest birthday ever, the one we celebrate this season.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? Sounds like something you want. You already know it is a gift, yours for the taking…. But somehow it continues to elude you…. It’s like there is a prerequisite for this peace, and you don’t know what it is!
Join us on Tuesday for “The Prerequisite for Peace… JESUS’ PEACE: Experiencing the Peace of the Christ Child … All Year Long! Part 2”
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, andScriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, withAnswers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.