An Invitation to Peace
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
The Hebrew word translated as peace in our English Bibles is shalom, and its meaning is broader than the English word peace. Shalom “carries a greater connotation of well-being, health, safety, prosperity, wholeness, and completeness”.* Sounds like something we all need and want!
First, we desire peace with God. Sin separates us from God so, instead of experiencing His shalom, we feel fear, anxiety, and isolation, just as Adam and Eve experienced when they were hiding in the garden. Thankfully, we are told in Scripture that we can have peace with God through the payment that Jesus made for our sins. As long as we keep turning ourselves and our hearts toward God, we are assured that we will have peace with Him. That is the most important peace of all.
But many of us long for internal peace that includes an overall sense of well-being. How can we find it in a world of stress? Jesus taught His disciples that, in spite of the problems they would have in this world, they could live in his shalom because He was greater than this world and greater than their problems. They just needed to trust in His overcoming power. The same message is true for us today – learning to trust God, His love, power, and timing.
We also want to live at peace with one another. We don’t like war, disagreements, and living in tension with other people. God doesn’t like these things either. In fact, we are told, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). While internal peace requires trust in God, peace with one another requires humility – putting ourselves in second place and, instead of valuing being right, seeking the higher value of peace. God blesses the man or woman who puts His values ahead of their own.
Peace is, indeed, a very high value to God. There is a very clear command that tells us to “seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:11). We are not just to look around and see if it is there, we are to chase it until we find it. As we listen to the voice of the Spirit within us, He will create a greater and greater desire for peace. We, then, take the necessary steps to pursue it. The results of our pursuit are up to God.
In summary, pursuing peace involves several steps.
First we are to grow in purity. As we have already learned, sin will block the peace between us and God. We must not be afraid to ask the Spirit to show us areas in our lives that need to be cleaned up. He will do so gently and we will experience cleansing and an overall sense of well-being that can only be called shalom.
Second, we must practice contentment. We are pilgrims passing through this world of time. Eternity is our true home and our final destination. When we begin to think that way, relationships, incidents, and possessions take on a heavenly perspective and the contentment that grows brings with it peace.
The third step in pursuing peace is to be willing to initiate reconciliation with someone who is unhappy with us. Maybe it wasn’t our fault. Maybe they haven’t acknowledged their wrong. But, there are times when we have to make peace; it won’t just happen on its own. Initiating reconciliation is very difficult. Maybe that is why Jesus pronounced special blessings upon those who are peacemakers (Matthew 5:9).
What are those blessings?
The first is rest. Peace gives rest for our souls, ability to sleep soundly, and relief from anxiety.
The second blessing is health: physical, emotional, and spiritual. When we realize all the diseases that can result from unrest within us and from conflicts with other people, we know that God’s peace will be health to our bodies and our souls.
A third blessing is renewed relationships that are built on honesty, forgiveness, service, and humility.
Shalom, brothers and sisters! Be blessed.
“The world can create trouble in peace, but God can create peace in trouble”. – Thomas Watson
*Lois Tverberg, Listening to the Language of the Bible (Holland, Michigan: En-Gedi Resource Center), p. 13.