Peace is an interesting word used in many ways today. People work hard for peace around the world through the Peace Corps, through humanitarian aid projects, through being kind to one another, through helping the needy, all in an effort to spread this idea of peace. But what is peace? When most people (or Wikipedia) think of peace they think two things: a) Things that labor to remove insecurity, social injustice, economic inequality, political and religious radicalism, and acute racism and nationalism. b) A long-haired, bandanna headed, man or woman, holding up two fingers with a large smile. The Bible on the other hand defines peace in a very different way.
The word for peace means more than “peace” in the Bible. In the Old Testament it is “shalom” and in the New Testament it is “eriene”. Both of these words mean “fullness”, “wholeness”, or “complete-ness”. Peace is more than the absence of conflict, it is a rest and wholeness that can only come from God through Christ. The Bible also makes an interesting distinction about peace; you must come into the objective (outside yourself, factual) peace with God before you can experience the subjective (inside yourself) peace of God.
The objective peace with God is found in Romans 5:1, “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…” A person only has peace with God when they come to faith in Christ, because Christ on the cross absorbed the wrath of God, fully satisfying it on our behalf. Apart from faith in Christ, no one has peace with God because of sin and all remain under the curse and wrath of God.
The subjective peace of God is found in Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Paul instructs us to pray, rather then being anxious, letting our concerns be made known to God. When we do that, we experience a peace that words cannot, ever, describe.
The world has it wrong. They are after subjective peace and will go to great lengths to try to find it. In fact, many people have claimed that they have found true peace on their own. But the Bible makes it clear, you cannot have the subjective peace OF God without first having the objective peace WITH God. If the objective peace is not there, you will not have the subjective.
Bottom line: you must be at peace with God first iin order to have the peace of God.