Peace, to many, is simply the absence of conflict. When a war ceases, we have peace. In life, some people are content with life if it is free from a fight. They think they have peace, but peace should be so much more.
The word for peace in ancient Hebrew is shalom. The Arabic word salam also means peace. Both words have a much broader meaning often hidden by our one word translation. The peace of old includes true wholeness. Well-being is part and parcel of true peace.
The first goal of finding peace, then, is to remove the conflict obscuring the path forward. Once the conflict is resolved, those who seek wholeness need to find deeper harmony and well-being. The harmony is both external and internal. External peace works on the environment to conform it with ideals. All cultures have some form of the good life which informs the ordering of internal life. If the culture’s ideas are faulty, the internal peace will be more difficult to achieve. The human being works on both the external world and the internal world to bring harmony.
Although peace, in this sense, informs the ancient religions of Judaism and Islam, Islam, Judaism and Christianity are not known for harmony and well being. Images of wholeness and completeness are often associated with Confucianism and Zen in the common consciousness. In fact, some Christians, unaware of their roots dismiss quests for inner peace and harmony in the world as New Age or worse.
Christians would do well to search their scriptures to find ways ancient role-models found harmony with their environment and harmony with each other. They would do well to see how people like Jesus could sleep in the middle of a storm. How does someone arrive at this peace and rest? What is it in our society that leads to frenetic activity and economic production as a path to happiness? What if we unplugged, sat in a meadow for a while and communed with nature as a gracious gift from God?
I wish grace and peace to you. However, what I mean by that is influenced by what I believe Paul meant by his greetings to Philemon
Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,
To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker— also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier—and to the church that meets in your home:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.