Most people have the longing for peace – world peace, peace in society, peace in relationships, peace of the heart. Peace seems to be the highest good, utopian and unattainable.
The longing for peace
This is not accidentally – we are created with the deep longing for harmony, balance, and peace – with God, with ourselves, with our lives, with others, with the world and our place in it. In short, we are born with the longing for the lost Garden of Eden. This is the state of integrity, completeness, perfection, freedom, intimacy, security, prosperity and blessedness.
God has a plan to bring back humanity and all creation to this lost state of eternal peace and joy, and to eternal life in the very presence of God. Through Christ, called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9: 6), God triggers and implements His redemptive and restoration plan. The plan prepares us for the time of the new heavens and the new earth, of the heavenly Jerusalem. This is life without curse, suffering, weeping, pain, sorrow, and death. (Revelation 21: 3-4)
We find ourselves now in this world in the state in between. We are between the Garden of Eden and the new heaven and earth. And in this transitional interval of time, God gives us in Christ access to reconciliation, inner peace, joy, and completeness. As a kind of anticipation of what is to come, and a sure foundation and way of living in an imperfect world full of evil and suffering.
The Biblical definition of peace
The Biblical word for peace is “shalom”. This word in Hebrew has the meaning of fullness, integrity, completeness, harmony, balance. Applied on a personal level it can mean health, prosperity, to be at peace with oneself and life. Applied at a relationship level, the word bears the meaning of the absence of an internal hostile attitude, hidden hatred, hostility, offense, jealousy, desire for revenge, and their external expressions. It expresses the attitude of goodwill, benevolence, acceptance. Such attitude enables in its turn the freedom for the persons in the relationship to be fully themselves.
Being at peace with a person does not mean to like him/her, or to be close friends, or to have the same opinions on all matters. This rather means a lack of hostile attitude and prejudices, readiness for help when needed, and acceptance of that person as he/she is. Peace with someone does not necessarily mean maintaining a relationship. Sometimes in order for the peace to be preserved, separation is the best way. In short, peace in relationships is an integral part of God’s command to love our neighbor as ourselves.
The starting point is peace with God
It is difficult to build and maintain really peaceful and harmonious relationships if we are in a state of enmity with God and ourselves. The starting point is to restore peace with God. Through the death and life of Christ, God invites us to reconcile with Him, delivering us from the curse of the law, cleansing our dossier and giving us new life and nature. God gives us His grace, unconditional acceptance, and love. This means the beginning of a new relationship with Him. In this type of relationship, there is no need to prove anything. We are accepted and beloved once and for all. The basis of this relationship is a faith that works through love.
We first receive from God before we are able to give. We are firstly recipients and then givers. The voids in our hearts must first be filled with His love, comfort, encouragement, mercy, kindness, and grace. We need to try and taste that the Lord is good. (Psalm 34:8). And only then we will become capable of giving love and grace and establishing genuine peace in our relationships.
The acknowledgment of our inability to love in our own capacity with lasting and unconditional love and accepting God’s ability (grace) for this is the first step on the path of peace. We must first allow God to show us how He loves us in Christ and to teach us to love Him as He does. This happens as we follow Him and imitate Him in everything. Let us invite the Prince of Peace to respond to our longing for peace and to establish peace within our boundaries.
Have you made peace with God? In which areas of your life do you still lack peace and reconciliation? You are welcome to share and comment!