The word English word “peace” shows up over and over again in the New Testament. I am sure it is several different words in Greek but I think the general gist of it is probably the same. Jesus spoke often of peace:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16: 33)
That is a real peace, a peace in spite of peril, a peace in spite of worldly security. Sometimes it seems to be speaking of the standing of men with God, like in Colossians 1:20 where Paul says that Christ reconciled us to God, making “peace by the blood of his cross”. Other times it seems to be a real-time peace, something we can enjoy to an extent now and something we should seek. When Jesus said "Blessed are the peacemakers", it would seem that He is speaking of a present time making of peace, not a future eschatalogical fulfillment. It is not a naive ideology of "peace" that expects the world to be peaceful toward us if we are peaceful toward it. It is a peace that comes from knowing that we are secure in our Savior in spite of any persecution or even death that the world might hurl at us. What does a Christian have to fear in death? Why would anyone who has a confidence in Christ have a fear of death? That is why we can be peacemakers in a world that sees that as weakness.
Paul on occasion also mentioned peace when writing to the church. By occasionally, I mean all the time. For example:
To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom 1:7; See also: 1 Cor 1:3; 2 Cor 1:2; Gal 1: 3; Eph 1:2; Phil 1:2; Col 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:2; Philemon 1:3; 1 Tim 1:2; 2 Tim 1:2; Titus 1:4 to name a few)
Is this peace spoken of again and again merely a future reality? Grace to you now but peace to you later on? I don’t think so. I think that in reflecting the grace shown us by God the Father, we out to also be reflecting and seeking peace by seeking to live peaceably, by being peacemakers, by being meek and humble as a witness to a world that mocks humility and adores arrogance.
When we read what Paul wrote to Timothy in the "pastoral epistles", we often focus on the functional aspects of his writings but Paul seems to focus far more on the personality aspects and in those personality aspects Paul focuses on some very counter-cultural qualities.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. (1 Tim 2: 1-2)
I have come to really cherish what Paul is saying here, that our great desire is not to win political victories over those who rule us or to see our church budget grow but that we may live peaceful and quiet lives. Even in the sort of men who we should recognize as elders, this idea of peace crops up:
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Tim 2: 22-26)
Look at that list. Pursue peace along with those who call on the Lord. Patiently endure evil. Gentleness. Kindness. Not badgering them. Not beating them over the head. If you want to be a servant of the Lord, being patient, seeking peace, being kind is every bit as important as being “able to teach”. We are not called to merely look forward to the future peace of eternity, but to earnestly seek after it now. How rarely do we think of these qualities instead of reviewing a man-centered resume of accomplishments and credentials? In another place, Paul speaks of our response to the world:
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Rom 12:18)
Paul is a realist. It may not be possible to live peaceably with others but that is not because we will not live peaceably with them but that in spite of our efforts they will not live peaceably with us. That doesn't mean that someone who refuses to live peaceably with us gives us license to ignore this admonition. Indeed, Paul follows this up in the very next verse to admonish us to never avenge ourselves (Rom 12:19). Never is a pretty strong word but not one that Paul chose carelessly.
How that picture paints a contrast with our triumphalist, man-centered and worldly religion! When the unbelieving world looks at the church, it doesn’t see peacemakers, humility, grace, recipients of mercy who are dispensers of mercy. What is the witness of the church to the unbelieving world? By and large it is: anger, hypocrisy, money, power, politics. The world sees Christians as people who live the same way, react the same way, respond the same way as every other unsaved person during the week but then get together on Sunday mornings to show how pious and moral they are. Our Scriptures say "Blessed are the peacemakers" and "Overcome evil with good" but our churches say "Sue for your rights!" and "Get the terrorists before they get us!"
Shouldn't the church be a reflection of our Savior in emulating His humility, His sacrifice, His service, His peacemaking, His love? Rather than a mirror that reflects the image of the Savior, we are too often like a carnival funhouse mirror, a distorted reflection of His image. Why should we expect people to follow Jesus when we who have taken His name upon ourselves fail to do so in any sort of meaningful way?