Most people want peace. Many of us want peace even if it means war to get it. And most of the time we want peace on our terms.
This creates problems.
For some, peace is simply an absence of conflict. For others, peace is an inner state of consciousness. Some people seek peace through nature, prayer, or meditation. It just seems very difficult to find. Maybe we are looking in the wrong places. Just like that old country song says, we are looking in all the wrong places (Looking for Love by Johnny Lee, released in 1980).
Peace is not something you can buy at a store, find in a bottle, or discover on a mountaintop. To be sure, there is a peaceful environment in nature and many of the things we do to get peace provide temporary relief, but where can we find true peace?
Let’s examine two concepts about peace. The first is that it is the absence of conflict. Do you believe that when there is a ceasefire in any one of the many wars constantly being waged, that there is true peace within the ranks of both armies? The armies don’t go home. They stay on high alert just in case the other attacks. Hopefully, the stress lifts for the people caught up in these wars but do you think they feel peace deep within?
And what about personal relationships? If I hide my concerns and worries and pains to avoid upsetting my friend or spouse, am I at peace? My spouse or friend may be more at peace than I am, but I tend to think they are also waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop.
The second is peace on my terms. This is an interesting characteristic of being human. We want most things on our terms and peace is no different. Peace on my terms is usually akin to mere relief and is based only on other people granting my desires. For some peace means turning the phone off and sitting in seclusion. For others, it is swimming or hiking. Even in families, this peace means that those around us must discover and obey our wishes. The image that comes to mind is one of young parents who finally get their child to sleep. There is relief mixed with anxiety wondering when the baby will wake again.
Both these versions of peace are actually a temporary reprieve or relief from our obligations and stresses. We don’t actually have control over the path and length of that kind of peace. The child may wake. Our spouse may want to talk. Someone will break the ceasefire. Peace is broken when outside influences enter our inner state.
So, what is true peace?
The Hebrew word, Shalom, which we take to be peace is much deeper. It also means wholeness, completeness, and harmony. Shalom is an inner state of being. It is not something to find, it is a way to be. Because it is internal, it can be called upon to buffer us from external forces that stress or obligate us. Shalom is crucial to counter the spiritual forces that attack us. This type of peace is deep and it is personal.
Jesus is called the Prince of Peace. This peace he doesn’t keep just for himself but gives to his followers. John 14:27 says “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you.”
After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples and greeted them with “Peace be with you!” (Luke 24:36).
The result of this type of peace which comes from Jesus is recorded in Psalm 4:8, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
True peace is an inner state of being that is a gift from Jesus to his followers. There is no other peace that lasts longer or is deeper or truer than this.
Andy Becker is a retired counselor and author of The Travelers, a fictionalized account of spiritual warfare (available on Amazon) as is, Stupid Thyroid, a book he co-wrote with his wife, Stella. He and his wife, Stella, lead Lighthouse Ministries which offers love, hope, and encouragement to one of Canada’s poorest and roughest neighborhoods, North Central Regina. His book, The Travelers, is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca