Do not envy the violent
    or choose any of their ways.
For the Lord detests the perverse
    but takes the upright into his confidence.

Proverbs 3:31-32 (NIV)

What is peace? In the Hebrew Bible and indeed the Hebrew language, shalom (peace) means tranquility or completeness, not merely the absence of conflict or war. For us as believers in God, the peace that he imparts to us does not exclude us from external strife, but it does grant us the completeness that comes from God’s Holy Spirit and elevates our way of thinking.

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:44-48 (niv)

In a similar way, the Greek word for perfect (teleios) does not mean “without flaw” but rather complete, full-grown or mature. The Christian, therefore avoids violence, not merely because harm to others is wrong but because it is against the very nature of a person who pursues the peace and completeness of God to also go after the petty, immature and self-serving outcomes violence brings. We are to be more complete, relying on our harmony with Him to guide us.

Ethan Kirl