The Battle for Peace
Peace in our world may be as elusive as it is misunderstood. How does the Bible define true peace—and what must we do to obtain it in our own lives?
In the New King James Version of the Bible, that word appears in 369 distinct verses. It’s a topic God inspired the writers of the Bible to focus heavily on, perhaps because it is a subject so integral to the human condition. Everyone wants peace.
So why can’t we find it?
Defining the terms
Peace is not an object. It cannot be examined directly by any of the five senses. Yet, as physical beings, we tend to view it in physical terms: If two groups of people aren’t actively shooting at each other, then that must be peace.
But peace is not just the absence of conflict. We cannot define peace in physical terms because peace isn’t physical. It’s a spiritual concept; and to truly understand it, we need to look at it in spiritual terms.
To do that, let’s talk about a boat.
Calm in the storm
This particular boat was in the midst of a mighty tempest. As conditions worsened, all those aboard the vessel began to despair of making it to shore alive—all, that is, except one.
This particular passenger was fast asleep. He was not particularly worried, because this particular passenger was Jesus Christ.
You may recognize this story from the Gospel accounts (Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25). While crossing the Sea of Galilee, a tempest came out of nowhere and wreaked havoc with the disciples’ boat. While they panicked and feared for their lives, Christ was taking a nap in the stern.
The world around Him was in total chaos, but Christ was at peace. Christ’s actions give us some vital insight into the requirements for true, lasting, tempest-proof peace.
Peace requires perspective
Before Christ came to this earth as God in the flesh (John 1:14), He and God the Father created the universe (verses 1-3). Whereas His disciples saw only a life-threatening storm, Christ was able to see a storm operating on mechanics He designed. That storm was nothing more than a speck of dust swirling on a slightly larger speck of dust—both of which were made possible by Him.
When we encounter problems in our lives, we tend to see them from our limited human perspective: immediate, overwhelming, hopeless. It’s hard to cultivate peace with such an outlook. Rather, we have to learn to step back and see things from God’s perspective, for, “with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
When we begin to see our storms as subject to the God who cares for us, we take a step toward peace.
Peace requires faith
In their panic over the storm, the disciples woke up Christ and asked the question that was on all their minds: “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38). Another account records a heartfelt, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” (Matthew 8:25). In response, Christ asked them a question that no doubt remained in their thoughts for quite some time:
“Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 8:26).
Alongside perspective, we must also have faith.
God wants to give us His Kingdom (Luke 12:32). He’s already sent His Son to accept the death penalty in our place; should we think for one second He will have His hands tied by any trial we will ever face?
When we begin to develop a steadfast faith that God is able to and will guide us through our storms, we take another step toward peace.
Peace requires warfare
Though this final point may sound almost paradoxical, in this age spiritual warfare is absolutely required to maintain a state of peace. Satan the devil knows God’s plan for you and is eager to sabotage it in any way possible. Therefore, “be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Satan will attack every weak spot he can find—and your perspective and faith will be among his first targets. If he can dismantle—or even just significantly shake—your peace, he’ll have an opportunity to warp your perspective, shatter your faith and convince you to give up on the greatest gift you’ve ever been offered in your life.
But God has not left us to fight these battles alone. We have been given access to “the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). That armor, examined in verses 14-18, is and ought to be a study in its own right—disregarding it is spiritual suicide.
On our own, we are easy prey for the snares of Satan, and whatever peace we might find is quickly snatched from us. But when we stand with God and fasten tightly His armor, living by His every word, that roaring lion we face will quickly find he has no angle to land an attack (though not from a lack of trying).
Satan would have you believe that peace is what happens when everyone stops fighting and starts accepting every other way of looking at life—believing that truth differs from person to person and accepting that we all view things differently.
But real peace does not mean compromising our morals or turning a blind eye to sin. Peace requires us to see things as God sees them, to trust in Him and to take up the sword of His Word as the ultimate and only standard—rejecting whatever contradicts it.
Yes, if we truly desire a true spiritual peace, then we must be prepared to fight a spiritual war—but unlike a physical war, this is one we are guaranteed to win so long as we keep our eyes on the Kingdom and our minds and hearts on the perfect law of God. Satan may be relentless; but he is, in the end, just another storm—and the God we stand with is so much greater.
So long as we continue to bring our perspectives in line with God’s point of view, allow ourselves to trust more and more in His might and love for us, and daily refasten the armor He has provided for us, we will win this war—and we will have peace along the way.
To quote the apostle Paul, “The God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen” (Romans 16:20).
Keep fighting the good fight.
To learn more about the importance of faith, read What is Faith?