. . . guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:79
I still have a peace symbol necklace I purchased in the late sixties. During those turbulent times, many youth were against the war in Vietnam and advocated a life of peace. I wasn’t a draft dodger nor did I drive a VW van with flowers painted on it, but the idea of peace captivated the thoughts of my generation. That generation has not been alone in its desire to experience peace. Every generation and culture desires to be at peace.
In scripture, “peace” is more than inner peace or the absence of conflict. Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., in his book, Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, defines shalom (peace) this way:
The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight is what the Hebrew prophets call shalom. We call it peace but it means far more than mere peace of mind or a cease-fire between enemies. In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness and delight – a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way it ought to be.
Peace is the way things ought to be. It is what God desires for us. The opposite of peace is inner and outer turmoil. When we are well, when we have a deep sense of inner well being, we can give peace. The opposite is also true. When we have inner turmoil, and are not spiritually well, we are needy people. When we are unable to focus on others, we can’t reciprocate peace. We want peace, but we can’t give it. Throughout the New Testament we see this prayer, “Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior!” God desires for us to be in the ideal state of relationship with him and others. God is the author of peace (Psalm 29:11). Jesus encouraged his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
In the New Testament, the Greek word most often used for peace is “eirene,” which means peace, prosperity, quietness, rest, and “to set at one again.” Peace means to be made whole and healthy again.
You can’t have peace with others when you are warring with God. Our Heavenly Father is not a God of disorder but of peace. (1 Cor. 14:33)
Anxiety, nervousness, worry, turmoil, conflict, and disorder are all the result of man’s lack of trust in God. Each time we fret, each time we retaliate anger with anger, we are saying, “God, I don’t trust you.” The first step to the way of peace is to have a right relationship with God. Inner peace comes when we surrender things beyond our control, things that we cannot change, and trust God. Confessing our failures to God and acknowledging our dependence in His power draws us closer to God. Persons of peace are humble. They acknowledge that God is Lord of everything.
Who do you know who lives a life of such peace? I’d like to hear their story. Email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org