A number of weeks ago we visited the Jurassic Coast along the English Channel. I saw this rock out from shore being battered by these impressive aqua-blue waves and asked our friend who was travelling with us if she might get a shot such as this (she is a photo-journalist). I was impressed how though the sea raged the rock remained firm. This image coincided with my rediscovery that the Biblical principle of peace is actually synonymous with “order.”
Everyone is searching for peace in a troubled world. Many people look for it in unhelpful places. Such places give the allusion of calm waters for a time but when the waves roll in again those quiet waters are churned back into chaos. Sometimes we seek peace in our comforts and vices. Other times we proactively seek exercise, vacations, lifestyle changes and meditation, which are all examples of our attempts to find peace through the latest fad: inner peace, relational peace, societal peace, peace in the transcendent. Eastern religions (i.e. Buddhism, Zen, Yoga, etc) are very popular ways in which people seek peace. Hard work, meditating to “empty oneself” and to find nirvana (literally soul extinction) and to balance your “zen” with the world. Such “new age” religious attempts to find peace are very attractive to many westerners, Brits included. To quote my friend, “It meets their needs to believe that they can deal with their own difficulties by technique and hard work; it tickles their interest in the esoteric and it removes the need for them to relate to a God who might break into their [self-satisfied, God denying] mindset” Accordingly, many Christians are led to mix religions and find the Hebrew term shalom an easy Christian bridge to link the Church with the new-age.
The noun שלומ (shalom), often translated as “peace,” comes from the verb שלמ (Sh.L.M). The verb shalam means to “restore” in the sense of replacing or providing what is needed in order to make someone or something whole and complete. The noun שלומ (shalom) is one who has, or has been provided, what is needed to be whole and complete. Scripture speaks of God being the primary agent for such peace and thus Biblically speaking peace is not something we attain to or even find but something that we are given. True and lasting peace comes not from within but from without. People, interested in the concept of shalom (minus God) crop the word to suit their selfish wants and desires for a spiritual completeness and high without Him. Yet to find true shalom means to get real with God. Peace is synonymous with order. The reason our lives have chaos is because we have rebelled from God and are not living under his good order and rule. No God, no peace, no shalom.
The Bible actually says that God is a God of peace. In 1 Cor 14:33 we find that “God is not a God of confusion but of peace [or order].” This echoes Ro 15:33, 16:20; Phil 4:9; 1 Thess 5:23; Heb 13:20, etc, etc). Peace is an attribute of God! If God is peace then it would follow true peace can only come from Him. Isaiah 48:22 is the key to understanding how we can find true peace. It says, “There is no peace,’ says the LORD, ‘for the wicked.” Humans are not at peace in our hearts or with our neighbours all because we are not first at peace with God. We have all “sinned and have fallen short of the glory [standard] of God” (Ro 3:23) and are enemies of God (Ro 5:10, Col 1:21). Thankfully God provided a remedy for our disorder, He sent His Son. At Christmas we often read from Isa 9:6, “for unto us is born a child…and He shall be called prince of peace” and from Lk 2:13, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” How nice, all is now calm, all is now bright! I can continue to placate God with my selfishness and disinterest in Him and all will be well, NO. The reason why Jesus is called the prince of peace is because He came to die on a Roman Cross to pay the penalty of our rebellion before a holy God so that by believing in Him we might have peace with God (Ro 5:11) and eternal life instead of death (Jn 3:16-18). Our rebellion against God has led to the disorder of our hearts, relationships and society. Believing in Jesus is the first step to submitting our lives to Christ’s benevolent rule and finding peace. Further to dying so believers might have peace with God Jesus promises to give believers the gift of His Spirit (Eph 3:17). In Gal 5:22 we see that the result [fruit] of the Spirit being given to us is that it will produce peace in our life: peace with God, peace with others and peace within that comes from our conscience being freed from the guilt of sin and delighting in God and His ways. So much more could be said of the wonderful benefits and workings of such peace!
When we receive peace with God through faith in Jesus, and through the gift of His Spirit grow in peace, we can peacefully say that in such wisdom “are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace” (Prov 3:17).
May you know the peace of Christ,