Imagine yourself at a cabin, sitting in a porch, staring out at this grandiose mountain with a lake right at the front. The temperature is just breezy enough to where you can wear shorts and a t-shirt and feel perfect. I don’t know about you, but to me, that is the most restful and peaceful scenario I can think of.
Peace is something we all search for . . . but do we actually know what peace is and where it comes from? The dictionary defines peace as “a state of mutual harmony between people or groups.” This definition indicates that peace comes from us being unified and one. So, why do we always equate peace to absence of conflict?
Scripture talks about peace over 400 times, it tells us that there are different types of peace. Peace with God, peace with men, inner peace, and false peace.
The word shalom, which is Hebrew for peace, is used in the Old Testament to represent peace in relationship with people, nations, and God. It’s a state of being unified with those around us. In Matthew 18:15–19, Jesus explains that when we sin against one another, or if there’s any conflict, then we must confront it. He reminds us how sin divides us and how we need to be reconciled to one another. Sin takes away our shalom, it divides us from God’s heart for us to be one body.
I love the idea of being part of one body. If you’re anything like me, then at some point in your life you’ve found yourself in a place where you’re comparing your gifts to someone else’s. That comparison grows into doubt, disbelief, insecurity, and shame. This gift that you’ve been given now becomes a source of shame. It’s such a lie that we become victims to, especially in the world of musicians, where talents are capitalized and it somehow equates to our worth.
Wouldn’t it be terrible if your hand desired to be a foot, or a mouth? It would completely take away from the body’s functionality; disrupting it as a whole. When we all walk in the gifts we’ve been given, in the function we’re supposed to be in, this harmony and cohesiveness brings peace—peace with one another, and peace within the body.
False peace is the most dangerous of them all; it gives us this uncertain security that everything is fine. There’s no conflict, no problems, so it’s just fine. Peace is not the absence of conflict; realistically it’s wholeness in the Spirit.
There is a huge difference between peace and numbness. Nowadays we tend to walk in numbness, often believing it to be peace. When I think of numbness, I think of going to the dentist. I can’t put into words how much I dislike going to the dentist. All the different noises and smells are a nightmare; it makes me cringe. I remember going in for a root canal and having my entire mouth numbed. I felt nothing, which, in that context was really great.
Let’s say your entire mouth is numb, you feel no pain but when you decide to eat some steak or ice cream you don’t get to taste any of it, either. That’s the reality of false peace and numbness . . . it keeps us at bay so we don’t complain, but it also keeps up from experiencing the good things God desires for us. False peace helps us to avoid pain, but it bears no fruit because it keeps us from fully experiencing God in every way. When we go through pain, we can rest in knowing that the Wonderful Counselor comforts us and brings us peace.
In the New Testament, the Greek word for peace is eirene,which falls more in line with rest and tranquility. This is in reference to the fact that through Christ’s sacrifice, our sins were justified and we can now be completely at peace with God. Through the Holy Spirit that now resides within us we can have everlasting peace, inner peace, and peace with God. It’s different than in the Old Testament, because our sins no longer need to be atoned for once a year. Jesus paid that debt in full, so our peace with Him was not just an agreement but an attribute of His we carry with us always. We can fully rest in the fact that God’s peace resides within us, and there’s no striving. It’s always available to us!
“You will keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”—Isaiah 26:3 (ESV)
With the mentality that peace is always available to us, it raises the question: “Why aren’t we always at peace then?” I love this verse in Isaiah, and it’s one that I’ve held onto for a very long time. It reveals one of God’s promise to us—of perfect peace—and then tells us how to apply it and make real in our lives.
Colossians 3:2–3 (NIV) says, “Set your minds on the things above, not on earth things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” When we tie in these verses, it reveals to us how to make that peace real in our lives and how to maintain it. God calls us to set our minds on Him and set aside anything that deters us from that. If our lives now abide in Christ, then it relieves the pressure of our day-to-day lives. Our fears, our uncertainties, and our concerns no longer mean anything because God is governing it all, and with Him behind the wheel our only role is to abide and rest. Complete surrender is what finally leads us to shalom, eirene, PEACE!
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”—Romans 15:13 (NIV)