Fruit of the Spirit: Peace

Peace may be the least discussed most desirable goal in our society. People often express goals of joy (or happiness) and love, but when is the last time you heard someone talk about their desire for peace?

Introduction

This month, the Fruit of the Spirit I discussed on the podcast with a friend was peace. Peace may be the least discussed most desirable goal in our society. People often express goals of joy (or happiness) and love, but when is the last time you heard someone talk about their desire for peace? Of course when you really stop to think about it, peace is a central component in our desire for all other things. How can you have joy without peace? How can you have love with out peace? Sarah and I discussed quite bit about peace in the podcast episode, but there was so much more that I had to do this blog post, as well!
Photocredit: Unsplash/Javardh

The Biblical Definition

In the episode, I talked about the original Greek and Hebrew words that are translated to peace in the English Bible, but I didn't really dive into how context clues in the Bible define peace. Perceptions and connotations of words can change over time and across cultures, so its always good to look at how the authors used the word throughout the Bible to get a better idea of it's true meaning.

Antonym: Disorder

In 1 Corinthians 14:33, Paul juxtaposes peace with disorder or confusion by informing us that God is a God of peace, not disorder. This means that disorder is not an attribute of peace. This makes sense if you've ever been in a situation where there is a lot of confusion; this type of disorder causes stress, which is the opposite of peace.

Antonym: Division

If peace describes a time when there is no war, it shouldn't be surprising that the Bible describes division as the opposite of peace, which implicitly means peace is synonymous with unity. In Luke 12:51, Jesus says He didn't come to bring peace, but to bring division, confirming the idea that division is the opposite of peace. We could veer off into a tangent about how the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) came to bring division instead of peace, but I'll save that for another post. Let's stick to the contrast of peace and division. If people are divided (re: not united), the best case scenario is that there is no forward progression, however the worst case scenario is that people begin to attack each other over their differences. God makes it clear that may of the factors people use today to classify people are not Biblically sound. We use these man-made classifications to divide ourselves and thus eliminate peace from our society.

Synonym: Safety

We can also use the different versions of the English translation to see what peace actually means. I quickly discovered that while some translators use peace, others preferred safety for the same word. Genesis 28:21 KJV versus Genesis 28:21 CSB illustrate this very point. In the podcast we touched on peace being related to a sense of safety. The most obvious definition of peace is "not at war," which harkens back to safety. It is impossible to feel peace if you feel unsafe. When you feel unsafe, your guard is up, your instincts are on overdrive, and there is a lack of trust in the people or situation before you. Safety is something you can partially control, but it's also something you can have no control over. We can do our best to sever ties with unsafe people, locations, and situations, but sometimes those situations are unavoidable. The best we can do is remember that we are always safe in Christ, regardless of the outcomes in this world, and let that be our peace.

Synonym: Fellowship

As I continued comparing translations, I realized that the CSB translates "peace offering" to "fellowship offering" throughout the pentateuch. Now this is something that threw me for a loop. Fellowship is the coming together of friends or community. While the word brings to mind joy, comfort, and even safety, it didn't register as peace in my mind at first. Sarah mentioned a common thread that the way to maintain peace is through relationships. Peace offerings, specifically, were offerings meant for reconciliation with God. This combines many of the ideas we've already broken out. Reconciliation eliminates division, creating unity. Since God is our King and the reason why we are reconciling with Him is that we have rebelled , reconciliation means replacing the disorder and chaos of rebellion with the order of God's law. In doing these things, we elect to have God as our protector, our commander in chief. With God fighting our battles, we are always safe. The best part is that after we have reconciled with God, we can enter into fellowship with Him. We can then build a relationship that allows us to cultivate permanent peace.

The Armor of God

The armor of God is talked about often in the church. As Christians, we're supposed to dress ourselves in this everyday as protection against the enemy. Part of that armor includes sandals of peace (Ephesians 6:15). Why peace is associated with sandals and the feet is not specified, but I have some theories. In order to make peace with something (or someone), you have to move forward. Peace requires forward thinking, letting go of the past, and imagining a better future. Also, we are supposed to spread the gospel (which in turn spreads peace), and this requires motion on our part. Another angle, is that shoes protect the feet from the harshness of the ground and provide stability. Whether it's grip in slick terrains, cushion on rocky surfaces, temperature regulation, etc., shoes enable us walk with more ease on otherwise difficult landscapes. Similarly, peace allows us to navigate difficult situations more easily.

Pursing Peace

In the last section, I talked about the need to move to obtain peace. Romans 14:19 tells us that we have to pursue peace. That means peace isn't just something we can happen upon. Like love and joy, we have to actively cultivate it. Peace isn't just a feeling that comes and goes as it pleases, we have choose peace, whether that's cutting stressful people/situations out of our life or redirecting our attention. This may be one of the most important things to remember about this Fruit of the Spirit.

References

  1. Shalom". My Jewish Learning; visited April 2019
  2. What is the meaning of the Hebrew word shalom?". GotQuestions.org; visited April 2019

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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