“But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful” (
“Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (
What is peace? How can we have peace? Peace is a misunderstood concept, which often eludes our comprehension and almost has become a cliché.
In the 1960s, peace was everywhere. In the late 1960s, 1969, the single “Give Peace a Chance,” by John Lennon became an anthem of the American anti-war movement. In “Give Peace a Chance,” Lennon pleaded, “All we are saying is give peace a chance.” In his video performance for the song, Lennon pleaded for peace and declared, “You will only get it if you want it, and we want it now!” We all desire peace, but how do we get it?
The idea of peace is all over the place and is viewed as the answer to all the world’s problems. In watching speeches at beauty pageants, peace shows up as a major topic of discussion and solution to the world’s ills. Everyone seems to want world peace. World peace is paraded and heralded as the greatest need and the highest virtue. However, peace is more than just words or talk, is it not?
In the film Miss Congeniality, an American police comedy from the year 2000, Sandra Bullock plays Gracie Hart, an undercover FBI Agent. While undercover in a beauty pageant, Gracie is participating in a question-and-answer session. When she does not mention world peace, the audience is silent and you can sense the awkwardness. She then adds the words, “and world peace” to her answer and the audience erupts in applause, approval and praise. The all-important world peace had been heard, and only then was the audience satisfied.
The pursuit and the focus on peace seem to be everywhere. In the world of NBA basketball, there is a Lakers player who has changed his name from Ron Artest to Metta World Peace. During one of his games, Metta World Peace elbowed another player from an opposing team, James Harden. Late-night talk show host and comedian Jimmy Kimmel from “Jimmy Kimmel Live” exclaimed, “World Peace with an elbow to the head,” and then said this act “ended World Peace.” We have, indeed, reduced peace; and look what we have reduced peace to—a name or label.
If we have a diluted understanding of peace, how do we begin to look differently at peace and begin to understand it rightly? We can begin by defining our terms and by looking to Scripture for clarity about what peace is and how we can have peace.
According to the Tyndale Bible Dictionary, peace is the “Total well-being, prosperity and security associated with God’s presence among His people.” Peace is simply defined as “the presence of God.” In the presence of God, we have the promise of the fulfillment of total well being, prosperity and security of God’s redemption, which has come in His Son Jesus Christ, and we have the promise of the restoration that is to come in eternity in the perfect presence of God.
The Tyndale Bible Dictionary goes on to support this idea of peace when it says, “Linked in the Old Testament with the covenant, the presence of peace was conditional, based on Israel’s obedience. In the prophetic writings, true peace is part of the end-time hope of God’s salvation. In the New Testament, this longed-for peace is understood as having come in Christ and can be experienced by the believers.”
According to the Holman Treasury of Key Bible Words, the Hebrew word for peace, shalom, means: “completeness, wholeness, well-being or welfare and peace.” It is derived from a root that means “to be complete or to be sound.” Peace is more than a feeling or something we try to achieve. Peace is a state of being or condition.
Peace, as it was intended to be, points back to a good creation before the fall. Peace looks to the cross of Jesus, what He has accomplished and to what He has given to us freely. Peace looks forward to restoration when all things will be made new and to when all things will be returned to their intended states of being, when all is restored to its intended state of shalom (see
The Holman Treasury of Key Bible Words goes on to assert, “When shalom is best translated as ‘peace,’ this peace is more than the mere absence of war or strife. It describes a peace that is positive; a time, place and condition that features love, righteousness, calmness, political and moral uprightness and much more.” This is the kind of peace God brings us. This peace comes only through what God has done in Christ. This peace comes through what God can do in our lives and through what God will do in the restoration of all of creation as He renews Eden.
The author of
If we are to have peace, if we are to bear this fruit of the Spirit, we must abide in Christ’s love and peace. We cannot bear this fruit of peace apart from God. The fruit of the Spirit buds off the branches that are abiding in the vine of His great love (see
Our God is referred to as the God of Peace. This can be seen in the name for God Jehovah-shalom, which basically means, “The Lord is peace,” according to Harper’s Bible Dictionary. This was the name given to God by Gideon to commemorate the appearance of the Lord to him and his commission to deliver Israel from the Midianites (see Harper’s Bible Dictionary and
As Paul said in
Paul also said in
According to Paul, we are to live at peace with all people. If Christ has made peace, we also should make peace with others. In
We cannot live at peace alone or in isolation from God or others. Herein lies the wisdom of what God has done on the cross through Christ. As James said so clearly in
One of the best stories of peace, which illustrates the greatest story of peace, the gospel of Jesus Christ, is Don Richardson’s book Peace Child. Don and Carol Richardson were missionaries to the Sawi tribe on the Indonesian island of Irian Jaya. The book describes Richardson sharing Jesus with the Sawi people there. In explaining Jesus’ betrayal by Judas, Jesus’ death, His burial and His resurrection, Don and Carol were shocked when the story of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus makes Judas the hero of the story and not Jesus, because the Sawi revere this primitive treachery.
Peace Child continues with Richardson describing the inter-tribal warfare, which continues the unrest, and how a chief then offers his son as a peace child, a living sacrifice, and the only means of bringing peace in this culture. Richardson recognizes this as the gospel message and uses this cultural norm to teach and illustrate the gospel, and Jesus as the True Peace Child who brings ultimate and eternal peace.
Around Christmas time, we begin to think a lot more about God’s peace. In
Christmas is about the fulfillment of this prophecy in Isaiah 9:6-7. Peace is born into the world to bring God’s peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Jesus is the embodiment of peace and it is in and through Jesus Christ that we can have peace, as well. Jesus is our Peace Child given by God for the peace of the world.
Jesus fulfilled this prophecy Isaiah 9 and those that came later in
“Till the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the desert becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field seems like a forest. Justice will dwell in the desert and righteousness live in the fertile field. The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. Though hail flattens the forest and the city is leveled completely, how blessed you will be, sowing your seed by every stream, and letting your cattle and donkeys range free.”
This is the peace Jesus Christ brings. Christ was born to bring the peace of God. Christ has poured Himself out for us in His death on our behalf. He has paid the price for our sins and for the sins of the world. He has restored peace between God and us; He has restored peace between our neighbors and us; and God is restoring peace in His creation. God is restoring all things to their peaceful intentions; God is restoring shalom.
May we come to know peace more and more as we deepen our relationship with the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ!
Now, as Paul concluded his letter to the church in Corinth in
Let us pray: Almighty God, kindle, we pray, in every heart the true love of peace, and guide with Your wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth, that in tranquility your dominion may increase until the earth is filled with the knowledge of Your love through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen (Book of Common Prayer, p. 257).
Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row, & Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). Harper’s Bible Dictionary (1st ed.) (453). San Francisc Harper & Row.
Book of Common Prayer
Carpenter, E. E., & Comfort, P. W. (2000). Holman Treasury of Key Bible Words: 200 Greek and 200 Hebrew Words Defined and Explained (135). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
Elwell, W. A., & Comfort, P. W. (2001). Tyndale Bible Dictionary. Tyndale reference library (1004). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
“Give Peace a Chance,” by John Lennon, lyrics
“Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Metta World Peace Elbows James Harden
Peace Child Video: Video One
Peace Child Video: Video Two
Richardson, Don. Peace Child
Robbie Pruitt is a high school Bible teacher in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Robbie loves Jesus, youth ministry, the great outdoors, writing poetry and writing about theology, discipleship and leadership. He has been in ministry more than 17 years and graduated from Trinity School for Ministry with a Diploma in Christian Ministry and from Columbia International University with a B.A. in Bible and General Studies and a minor in Youth Ministry. Follow his blogs at RobbiePruitt.Blogspot and RobbiePruitt.com and connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.