Editors Note: This is the first article in our new series on pursuing peace. In this series, our counselors are unpacking how to find peace in all areas of your life.
Many years ago, a popular musical artist sang out the phrase “Peaceful Easy Feelings,” which well describes the state of mind that we often find so elusive in real life. We live in a world riddled with conflict, danger, controversy, and distraction. Peace doesn’t really seem to describe the experience of many in recent weeks, months, or years. In reality, peace has always been hard for every country, culture, and even churches to find.
In our pursuit of peace, we must realize that it is more than a feeling of calm or tranquility; peace is more than good luck or feeling blessed. Peace is also more than avoiding conflict or war. Within the bible, the concept of peace has two main understandings: peace is about both our position and our disposition.
The position of peace is the absence of conflict, which results in living in a close relationship with God.
The disposition of peace is experiencing contentment in your soul that leads to greater joy in life, which is displayed in a quiet trust that allows one to thrive no matter the circumstances.
God offers us peace in both of these ways, yet He still calls us to pursue peace. The word of God gives us an understanding of the importance of peace and the pathway to obtain it. In fact, God offers us peace that is “perfect” in Isaiah 26:3 – “You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” That is quite the claim, but also difficult to reconcile with our lived experience at times.
In the culture where Jesus lived, died, and rose again, peace was hard to find as well. However, when Jesus offered peace, there was often a misunderstanding about how peace would come to pass. Jesus’ teaching on peace might seem to contradict considering these follow two verses:
Matthew 10:34 – “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (ESV)
John 16:33 – “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (ESV)
The contrast that Jesus was drawing was between the peace that is part of the eternal kingdom of God versus the peace we can experience while in the kingdom on earth.
John 14:27 – “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Romans 14:17 – “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (ESV)
Jesus is offering us a better peace, a perfect peace, because it is a peace that will never end and a peace that will never disappoint. It is a peace that comes from living in the right relationship with God and living a life that pursues his priorities. In order to understand what Jesus was teaching, we need to understand more fully what the bible teaches us about the importance of peace.
Peace is desired by God with us
- 2 Thessalonians 3:16 – “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” (ESV)
- Romans 5:10–11 – “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.  More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (ESV)
- Matthew 5:9 – “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (ESV)
Peace is a characteristic of who God is, and His desire is life at peace with his creation. Jesus came into a world that did not have peace, not because Romans and other neighboring countries couldn’t quite get along, but rather because the whole earth was groaning under the weight of sin and hostility towards God.
The selfishness and pain that destroys peace was brought about by our sin and the only solution for peace is that selfish and sinful hearts are restored to peace with God. Responding by faith to Jesus and what He did on the cross transforms us from “enemies of God” to “sons of God.”
The God of the universe does not desire to be your enemy, but desires for you to be His child and receive your full inheritance. This is the offer of peace; have you received it?
Peace is pursued by God towards us
- Isaiah 48:22 – “There is no peace,’ says the LORD, ‘for the wicked.” (ESV)
- Isaiah 53:5 – “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (ESV)
- Romans 5:1 – “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (ESV)
God was not content just to mourn the loss of fellowship with His creation; God was determined to pursue peace motivated by a heart of love. Jesus took our place and secured the possibility of peace with God. Jesus chose to come be with us, die in our place, and grant us the possibility of forgiveness and a right relationship with God.
God gives us a choice to receive or reject His offer of peace, but He has not left us without an answer to the lack of peace that plagues our soul. God desires for us to live at peace and provides the way. It’s up to each of us how we will respond. Will we humble ourselves, put off our self-righteous attempts to please God, and accept the forgiveness He offers?
Peace is given by God to us
- Philippians 1:2 – “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (ESV)
- Philippians 4:9 – “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (ESV)
God desires peace, pursues peace, and offers peace when we respond by faith and follow Him. Throughout the Bible, you see the writers and subjects within it offering peace as a gift and greeting to those they interacted with. They could give this gift of peace because they had received the gift of peace.
Jesus is offering you peace as well. Will you receive the gift? While we may live in fear of an angry and distant God who can never be pleased, God offers this gift of peace to us.
Peace is guaranteed by God for us
- Hebrews 13:20–21 – “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,  equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (ESV)
- Romans 16:20 – “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” (ESV)
- Isaiah 9:7 – “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” (ESV)
While we may look at the world around us and wonder if there will ever be peace on earth, Jesus hints at the fact that someday we will all have a vastly different experience. There is coming a day where God’s promise of peace on earth will be fully realized, where sin will not destroy, and where governments will no longer destroy peace.
Jesus reminded His followers no one will know that exact time, but it is coming soon. Brighter days are ahead for those who are at peace with God, adopted into his family, and right with Him through the finished work of Christ. Is the promise of God’s peace one that you are living with anticipation for?
If we are going to pursue peace in a world gone mad, we need to remember where peace comes from. It doesn’t come from finding the perfect setting to create a “peaceful easy feeling” but rather it comes as a gift of God. In the next few weeks, we are going to be exploring how to better have peace with God, peace with others, and peace within ourselves.
We hope this series is a blessing to you and results in greater peace in your life and your loved ones around you.