How to define it? Where do we find it?
When Israel was threatened by Babylonian invasion, they were tempted with their own words, suggesting that exile was just as peaceful as their own land. It was an old version of “Peace at any price.”
Isaiah 36:15-17 English Standard Version (ESV)
15Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD by saying, “The LORD will surely deliver us. This city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” 16Do not listen to Hezekiah. For thus says the king of Assyria: Make your peace with me and come out to me. Then each one of you will eat of his own vine, and each one of his own fig tree, and each one of you will drink the water of his own cistern, 17until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards.
To have a vine, a fig tree and a well requires a steady and secure life. It requires that one lives with neighbors who do not wish to steal their crops or shoot from the shrubbery.
We have two minimal definitions that come to mind. Peace suggests that there is not war. In the history of the modern world there have been very few years with no wars. Just in the past hundred years the United States was at war in Mexico, WWI and WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Bosnia, Iraq (twice), Afghanistan, and a number of other “police actions” and “international engagements.” If you include “Cold War” and “War on Terrorism” in the list there are very few years where we have not been at war during out lifetimes.
Peace also suggests personal calmness and well-being, inner peace and tranquility. So we advise the individual to meditate, retreat, recreate, exercise, explore, entertain or medicate to achieve serenity.
What is the “Peace” in the fruit of the spirit. the Greek word “eirene” was used to translate the Hebrew “shalom”. In biblical language peace means something totally comprehensive. Peace is “all that makes for social well-being and harmonious relationships.”
It is not only the one or the other, but both and everything else.
We have failed at both ends, and all that is in the middle. We seem to need some help. Galatians speaks of fruit of the Spirit (i.e. from God), and James speaks of wisdom from above that is peaceful. (James 3:13-18).
James 3:13-18 ESV
13Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.