“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you.” —John 14:27
Those were some of the last words Jesus said to His disciples at the Last Supper. He echoes them when He sees them next after rising from the dead: “Peace be with you” (Luke 24:36). Before their darkest hour, as they are caught in the grips of terror and confusion, peace is the gift Christ gives to His disciples.
But what IS peace? Is it that elusive thing that can only be earned by carrying the bigger stick? Is it complete pacifism in conflict? Is it sitting in a meditative pose as the world crashes and burns? Well, no. Peace is not any of those things. Not really.
The Hebrew word for "peace" is shalom. "Shalom" is still used today as a traditional greeting among many Jewish people, and it can be used to convey a wish for prosperity, well-being, success, harmony amongst friends and family, unity among the nations, and many other blessings. Literally, however, "shalom" means “to be complete [or whole].” At his calling, Gideon, one of the early Judges, named the place of his call “Yahweh-Shalom” which means “The Lord is our Peace” (Judges 6:24). Paul echoes this in Ephesians 2:14-15, explaining that the things that kept us from God were now removed because of Jesus, and we were able to be unified with Him.
And that there, I believe, is the key to understanding God's peace. Before the fall, we walked side by side with God, we had full communion with Him. After the fall, we lost this shalom, this wholeness, this peace. We began to hide ourselves in shame and fear. Jesus came so that we don’t have to have that separation, so that we can be wholly unified with Him and with our neighbors in a way our fallen selves aren’t capable of doing.
And that is why Christ left us with an incredible gift —the Holy Spirit—so that we would be able to have this union and produce the spiritual fruit of peace (Galatians 5:22-23). We should look for this growth in our relationships with God, ourselves, and others. But we all know how hard it can be to keep that peace, especially with people who drive us nuts.
“God cannot give us peace and happiness apart from Himself, because it is not there.” —C.S. Lewis
To grow in peace, you must have complete trust in God. Scripture is full of God's promises. God promises to never neglect us or forsake us (Psalm 27:10), to care for us (Matthew 6), to have a plan that will bring about good for us (Romans 8:28). He loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for us (John 3:16). True peace begins to grow in us when we can rest in these promises, to know their truth in a way that transcends our ability to put into words.
Having peace with God helps me rest in the knowledge that He has a plan—even if my life is crashing around me, even if I cannot see His plan. Peace is trusting that He will catch me if that meteor of destruction hits the world I’ve carefully created. Peace is hope in the promise that God is found in the storm as often as He is found in the peaceful places. Peace is knowing He has me cradled safely in His hands.
For those who struggle with this unity, let me encourage you that YES, peace IS still attainable! It may require a little bit more work on developing the paths of trust though—and a bit more faith and hope that true peace will come. And that’s perfectly okay. We are all growing more and more in this as we continue through life, so keep on fighting for that peace, even when it's hard.
“Which way brings you the most peace?”
"Are you at peace with who you are?”
These are two questions I ask on a regular basis of friends and those I mentor. Spiritual turmoil is brokenness in that "Shalom of Completeness" and an indication that something in or about our lives needs to change. Sometimes the thing that needs to change is our own heart.
Peace is a confidence in who God designed you to be. If you are constantly seeking others' approval, trying to be just like someone else, or not fostering your gifts and talents because they aren’t what you wanted to be given, then you're not at peace with yourself.
When we are most truly the selves we are meant to be, living a godly life, allowing the Spirit to bring forth the Fruits of the Spirit, we will feel that peace the strongest. That doesn’t mean everything will be hunky-dory, and all troubles will be far from you. But it does mean there will be peace within the mess.
“Peace and war begin at home. If we truly want peace in the world, let us begin by loving one another in our own families.” —Mother Teresa
"World Peace” is a wonderful ideal that every beauty pageant contestant hopes society can attain. But what exactly IS world peace? Is it simply a lack of war? Is it everyone leaving everyone else alone? Or is it working together as a community?
The Apostle Paul challenges us to consider true peace as more than merely not fighting but rather as actively being peacemakers in Romans 12. "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all" (Romans 12:18). He describes us as a body, each of our parts having a different role, but each essential to the health and well-being of the whole.
Peace doesn’t mean the hand stops hitting the face. Peace means that the hand helps turn the face toward his gifting. Peace with our brethren is more about becoming a tribe that allows the Medicine Man to do his part, the Warrior to do their part, and the Mother to do her part. It’s about a tribe that doesn’t just allow each to do their jobs but recognizes the beauty and necessity of each role and celebrates it. Instead of tearing down those who are different, the peaceful heart fosters each skill set and actively encourages (Romans 12:3-8).
Peace isn’t easy, but it is beautiful. Peace can be found in the darkest of places, but it has to be cultivated on a daily basis. So as you go about your crazy day today, as you tackle broken relationships, hurting wounds, and self-doubt, remember shalom. Remember the spiritual peace Jesus gave His Disciples in their darkest hour and how He has now extended it to you. Bring that wholeness, that completeness that can be found only in Christ, to a hurting world that needs that healing.
Peace is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and reflects our relationship with God, ourselves, and others. The fruit of peace looks like unity, harmony, and wholeness in our lives (Romans 12). Peace brings people closer to each other, to God, and to a richer understanding of self. Peace is simultaneously the easiest and the hardest to cultivate, because having peace is all about trust in God's character, His specific purpose and design for us, and humility in our part of His plan (Psalm 139). Peace means recognizing the dignity of each human you meet. Peace is about desiring an incredibly close union with God for everyone—including those who drive you absolutely nuts.
Brianna is a manager at her favorite childhood bookstore. She is likely to be found curled up with a book and her black cat, Bear, talking to a stranger, dancing outside in a thunderstorm, singing Disney songs while making cookies, or snuggling her best friend's baby while drinking coffee. Her heart is fueled by the desire to help people find their unique wings and use them in whatever capacity God has created them for. She is passionate about seeing and finding Christ in the secular world wherever she can.