What comes to mind when you hear the word peace? Maybe you have the kind of life where peace is missing altogether. Perhaps a better question then might be ‘what is it that stops you finding peace?’ I remember the children’s story Five Minutes Peace where Mother elephant is searching for a five-minute break from her children. In one scene she attempts to escape for a bath, only to be found by Baby elephant armed with his recorder. Is that the kind of problem you face? Do you long for relief from the chaotic outworking of the daily routine, from work emails, or the incessant chatter from your family? Just space to stop and relax!
Unfortunately, the Bible doesn’t promise that kind of scene until we get to the New Creation. Instead, God promises us an altogether different kind of peace. Rather than a moment of relaxation, or a break from conflict, the words for peace used in the Bible commonly refer to something we are missing. Can you recall doing a jigsaw puzzle? Grouping all the pieces by colour. Assembling the edges first, and then discovering to your horror that something is missing. The last piece of the puzzle is lost. Biblical peace is like finding the missing piece from the puzzle, that would otherwise leave us incomplete. The amazing reality is that once you find that peace, you can finally see the full picture.
God’s peace isn’t the absence of conflict, nor a respite from stress and environment, it is a state of togetherness, of being complete. In John 17:27 Jesus Himself says this:
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
His words are really important because Jesus contrasts the peace He offers with that ‘the world’, or in this case, the Roman Empire brought to peoples’ lives. Roman emperors made war so costly that few people dared to rebel, and those who did were made an example of. The phrase Pax Romana was coined to describe this remarkable ‘Roman Peace.’ But Jesus didn’t offer peace by the sword, but peace through His death. He died to both bring us peace with God, and also to enable us to be complete as God intended. Jesus is humanity’s missing piece. So now when we face stress, and we encounter trouble, we do so as completed human beings, armed with the perspective that comes from knowing we are children of God. It is in this kind of peace we rest.