Peace can be defined as a state of quiet or tranquillity; freedom from disturbance. It is a word commonly used to describe the absence of war or conflict. The Hebrew word is shalom, which is a general, friendly greeting communicated by Jewish people asking after the health and welfare of a person, equivalent to our phrase ‘how are you?’. It was the routine greeting of our risen Lord Jesus, with deeper meaning and reality, John 20. 19, 21 and 26, as well as being the frequent opening salutation of the New Testament writers in their various letters to believers across Europe and Asia.
The scriptures indicate that peace comes from God, Isa. 45. 7, He is the giver of peace, Num. 6. 26, and the author of a covenant of peace, Isa. 54. 10. Reception of His peace is dependent on trust in God, ‘Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace’, Job 22. 21. This tranquillity in our souls results from complete confidence in our Lord Jesus Christ and His redemptive work which He accomplished on the cross. However, continuation of this experience is reliant on our love for the word of God, ‘Great peace have they which love thy law’, Ps. 119. 165, and our thoughts being filled with a consideration of God, ‘Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee’, Isa. 26. 3.
We were born enemies, at war with God, but, rather than destroy all of humanity, in mercy He sent the ‘Prince of peace’ to undertake a great work of deliverance. Jesus’ birth was announced by angels with the communication to the shepherds that peace had arrived on earth, Luke 2. 14. Indeed, Isaiah had declared centuries before the incarnation that Jesus Christ would not only bear our iniquities, but also that He would endure the chastisement or judgement of a holy God to bring about peace, Isa. 53. 5. The death of Christ has brought an end to the hostility between us and God due to sin, and has enabled reconciliation, ‘Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’, Rom. 5. 1. The same transaction has broken down the barrier between Jew and Gentile, being united in the body of Christ which is the universal church.
The believer who is at peace with God should endeavour to live in peace with others in this world; this is evidence of our practical sanctification. ‘Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord’, Heb. 12. 14. It is this sanctifying work of the Spirit of God which results in peace characterizing our lives rather than anxiety and fear. Indeed, it was one of the great promises made by the Lord Jesus in the Upper Room that He would give us His peace, John 14. 27. Whilst we expect to face trials and troubles throughout our life, the reassurance for us is that Christ has overcome the world, which enables us to maintain a peace in our souls despite such problems, 16. 33. Paul encourages us that if we live in peace then we will experience the presence of God with us, 2 Cor. 13. 11. It is also expected that we are at peace with our fellow Christians, eagerly striving to keep the unity of the Spirit, Eph. 4. 3, as we are engaged in collective worship and testimony for His name.
We ought to be actively praying for peace in our land, Jer. 29. 7; 1 Tim. 2. 2. It is for this reason we pray for those who govern us, seeking to be allowed to live quiet and peaceable lives in godliness and honesty. Such an environment provides freedom for believers to be active in evangelism, informing others of the gospel which proclaims and brings peace to men in Christ. Sadly, peace will not be known completely in this world until the Lord Jesus reigns as Messiah in His millennial kingdom. Only then will the peace experienced by individual Christians be enjoyed on a global scale, Zech. 9. 10.