To take the gospels at face value, Jesus seems more than a little muddled about peace. In the Sermon on the Mount according the Matthew (and that might be significant as we shall see) he says
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
which seems scant reward for all the good work real peacemakers do - unless you are ultra-Jewish Matthew that is. Matthew bends over backwards to make it look like Jesus was the Jewish Messiah - the future king come to save the Hebrews and restore them to their rightful place as Yahweh's chosen people who will one day rule the world. The 'children of God' in this context are the Jews. The peace Matthews has Jesus recommending is the peace of Jewish rule over all mankind.
So what is this biblical peace exactly?
|Peacemakers at work|
When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it.
And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee.
And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it: And when the Lord thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword: But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the Lord thy God hath given thee.
So the peace Matthew has Jesus talking about in the Beatitudes is the peace of total surrender and servility; the peace of accepting second class status in a conquered state; the peace of abject slavery and submission to a foreign master.
And this 'peace' is the reward for capitulation. The alternative is death for every male and the women and children and everything in the state being taken as the possessions of the conquerors. The peace bought by paying off the protection racketeer.
And those who make this peace are Yahweh's chosen ones.
But then Jesus himself seems confused about whether peace is a good thing. He's in no doubt that his mission is not to bring peace to the Earth by cessation of all military activity and by turning swords into ploughshares, but to conquer it. Only then will there be peace.
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
And there we see the same demand for total surrender backed up by implied threats of terrible retribution. The language is a little more poetic but the message is the same. A few lines later on we even see what any Christian extremist worthy of the name could present as an argument for suicide bombings and martyrdom:
He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
So much for Jesus' view of peace and how it should be achieved.
What does Paul have to say about it?
Paul seems to regard peace as merely freedom from anxiety or even just freedom from fear of what Yahweh might do to you. The notion of freedom from military activity or the threat of it seems not to have occurred to him or those who write the epistles in his name. Peace is a selfish concept; something one achieves for oneself, not something one tried to achieve for others.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
So, when Christians quote Luke's angels and wish you 'peace on Earth and goodwill to all men', the peace they are wishing you is the peace of the slave who has surrendered freedom and even surrendered intellectual integrity in favour of faith and accepting their dogma without question. Significantly, these same people have never been slow to impose this 'peace' the same way the god of the Hebrews told them to impose it on others.
Abject submission to evidence-free superstition and to those who use it and the threat of an imaginary deity to impose their will and control on others is about as far from mental peace as I can imagine getting.