When most people think about peace they’re envisioning a world without war and violence or a state of calmness. And while these are true definitions, biblical peace is deeper.
The peace referenced in Colossians 3:15 and Galatians 5:22-23 is about harmony, safety, friendliness, and contentment. It’s a picture of sleeping soundly while the world’s (and our own) chaos cycles round.
True spiritual peace is an inner force giving its host unshakable confidence in their future. The peace gifted to us by the Holy Spirit gives us a glimpse into the big picture. And as a result, we can let go of our controlling nature, set aside our anxious thoughts and rest in the knowledge that God has a plan and He’s working it all out for ultimate good.
The most vivid example of biblical peace I have is from my grandmother. Her response from receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis was beyond my understanding. She heard it, accepted it and continued living life to the fullest in the time she had left.
What stood out to me was her peace was immediate. There was no period of adjustment or “coming to terms” with her mortality. She was content and at peace with her situation. I knew this wasn’t contrived, the peace of Christ ruled in her heart and she wasn’t afraid.
After witnessing true peace I know this is something I want in my life. Others have described this type of peace as a sudden sureness that everything was going to be alright; unmistakable confidence in God’s control.
While the intensity of the feeling may not linger, once you’ve experienced God’s peace you can look back and recall it, which will give you confidence the next time you encounter an out-of-control situation or your mind begins cycling in worry and anxious thoughts.
Where does the peace of God come from?
This isn’t a trick question. God’s peace comes to us from the Holy Spirit. Before Jesus left earth he promised the Holy Spirit would come in His place, a trustworthy advocate and guide for us.
I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.– John 14:27
God’s peace is a gift to us, something we cannot find anywhere else.
The world’s way
We all want peace, no matter our worldview or belief system. While Christians look to God for peace, the secular world has other suggestions in order to deal with our lack of peace—both internal and external.
Our obsession with youth, beauty, money, possessions (etcetera) can all be traced back to a desire to achieve some level of contentment. We see testimonials from people who used this product or that, changing their lives to a place where they are now happy and satisfied. Our social media feeds are filled with influencers showing us how beautiful and uncomplicated their lives are, probably because of the product they’re featuring or the brand they’re collaborating with.
As too many of us have discovered, the pursuit of worldly contentment doesn’t equal peace but instead leads to exhaustion, stress, relationship breakdowns, financial duress and even more anxiety.
King Solomon referenced this reality throughout the Old Testament, saying in the book of Ecclesiastes, “Everything is meaningless…completely meaningless! What do people get for all their hard work under the sun?” While this is a sad statement, it’s not untrue. Living without God is empty. What’s the point of all our hard work if there’s nothing after this life?
How to find peace
The problem with working to achieve a peaceful state is we’re doing it in our own strength. When we try and force peace we won’t find it. Through prayer and building a relationship with God, we learn to let go of our situations, thoughts, fears and concerns—trusting Him to work everything together for good (Romans 8:28). Maybe our specific issue doesn’t resolve the way we want, or we must walk a tragic path. Even in these times, we can have God’s peace because we believe and rest in the knowledge that a sovereign Lord has it all under control. Even if it makes no sense to us.
The big secret about biblical peace
Luke 12:22 and Philippians 4:6 instruct us not to worry about anything and instead pray about everything. Easier said than done. But what is the reward?
“Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”– Philippians 4:7)
Peace, like all the other Fruits of the Spirit, isn’t something we can produce in our own strength. It comes from giving our cares and concerns over to God and trusting Him to help us and give us the strength to face the future, no matter the outcome.
What else does the Bible say about peace?
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”– 1 Peter 5:7
Here are a few references about peace for further study.
- Matthew 6:25-27
- Matthew 6:34
- John 14:27
- Isaiah 26:3
- Philippians 4:6-7
- Matthew 11:28-30
- 1 Corinthians 14:33
- John 16:33
- 2 Thessalonians 3:16
- Isaiah 26:3-4
- Isaiah 32:17-18
- Romans 8:6
- Philippians 4:8-9
- Ephesians 2:14
Peace as a Fruit of the Spirit is best described as beyond comprehension. It’s something we all want and need, but it’s not something we can obtain or learn.
Receiving inner peace is a gift from the Holy Spirit and comes to us when we’re at our weakest—when we stop relying on our own strength and allow God to work within us. It’s from this place of peace my grandmother could face her cancer with unblinking courage, with a grateful heart for the life she had lived. It’s also how the Apostle Paul could write amazing words from death row in prison like, “That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong,” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
It’s this upside-down logic that brings us to a place of rejoicing in tough times. This is only possible because we have been made right with God, through faith in Jesus Christ. “We have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us,” (Romans 5:1). If only we can let go and trust God. Then we’ll have peace.