The Hebrew Bible uses a familiar but significant word, shalom. In its purest sense, shalom means “peace.” The connotation is positive. That is, when someone says, “Shalom,” or, “Peace unto you,” it does not mean, “I hope you don’t get into any trouble”; it means, “I hope you have all the highest good coming your way.”
Most people in our world do not understand peace as a positive concept. All they know is the negative aspect of peace, which is merely the absence of trouble. The definition of peace in many languages of the world illustrates that. For example, the Quechua Indians in Ecuador and Bolivia use a word for peace that literally translates, “to sit down in one’s heart.” For them peace is the opposite of running around in the midst of constant anxieties. The Chol Indians of Mexico define peace as “a quiet heart.” Those may be beautiful ways to put it, but they still seem to leave us with only the negative idea that peace is the absence of trouble.
The biblical concept of peace does not focus on the absence of trouble. Biblical peace is unrelated to circumstances; it is a goodness of life that is not touched by what happens on the outside. You may be in the midst of great trials and still have biblical peace. Paul said he could be content in any circumstance; and he demonstrated that he had peace even in the jail at Philippi, where he sang and remained confident that God was being gracious to him.
Where does a man find the kind of peace that cannot be affected by trouble, danger, or sorrow? John 14:27 says “I am leaving you with a gift; peace of mind and heart. The peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”
The peace Jesus is speaking of enables believers to remain calm in the most wildly fearful circumstances. It is tranquility of the soul, a positive peace that affects the circumstances of life. It is peace that is aggressive; rather than being victimized by events, it attacks them and gobbles them up. It is a supernatural, permanent, positive, no side effects divine tranquilizer. The peace of God is not based on circumstances like the world’s peace, so it doesn’t always seem to make sense.
It doesn’t seem reasonable that such peace could exist in the midst of the problems and troubles Christians go through. But this is divine, supernatural peace; it cannot be figured out on a human level. The peace of God stands guard and keeps worry from corroding our hearts and unworthy thoughts from tearing up our minds. This is the kind of peace we really want: a peace that deals with the past, a peace that governs the present, and with no unsatisfied desires gnawing at our hearts. A peace that holds promise for the future, where no foreboding fear of the unknown and dark tomorrow threatens us. That is exactly the peace through which the guilt of the past is forgiven; by which the trials of the present are overcome; and in which our destiny in the future is secured eternally.
The source of peace is found in God alone. Many places in the Bible he is named as “the God of peace.” Jesus Christ is the One who gives peace. Jesus said, “My peace I give to you.” Notice He says “my peace.” Here is the key to the super naturalness of this peace: it is His personal peace. The same deep peace stilled His heart in the midst of mockers, haters, murderers, traitors, and everything else He faced. He had a calm about Him that was unnatural and nonhuman. In the midst of incomprehensible resistance and persecution, Jesus was calm and unfaltering; He was a rock.
That’s the kind of peace He gives to us. It is undistracted fearlessness and trust. The source of peace is Christ. In fact, Christ is seen throughout the New Testament as the dispenser of peace.
He gave it to us when He left. It should give us the same serenity in danger, the same calm in trouble, and the same freedom from anxiety.
Most people’s pursuit of peace is only an attempt to get away from problems. That is why people seek peace through alcohol, drugs, or other forms of escapism. The fact is, apart from God, there is no real peace in this world.
Only the Prince of Peace gives us the peace of God in our hearts so that we may live in peace with others.
So let us accept the greatest gift of all this Christmas, a gift that will not break, rust, lose its power or fade away – Jesus and his gift of peace!
We invite you to join us Sunday mornings at First Baptist Church, 8:00 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. We are located at 700 Hardy Way. For more information, transportation or to request prayer call 702-346-7061 and please visit our website at fbcmesquite.com.