I think it is safe to say that we all want love, joy and peace in our lives. Of course, wanting these things is easy, but obtaining them is harder. In fact, we would all like those qualities of character mentioned in Galatians 5:22,23 - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. We can strive for a lifetime trying to obtain these qualities, only to find we have failed. We joke about the man who prayed, telling God "I want patience and I want it now", but the sad truth is most of us will never achieve these qualities because we are putting the cart before the horse.
"Cart before the horse?" Why would anyone put the cart before the horse? Horses are made for pulling carts, not pushing them. Wouldn't it be backwards to put the cart before the horse? Exactly! And we are doing things backwards if we try to obtain love, joy and peace in our lives by our own efforts and as an end to themselves. The Bible says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control". (Galatians 5:22,23) When a person has the Spirit of God inside them first, then they can work on developing these qualities of character. First comes obtaining the Holy Spirit, then comes the qualities of character. To try and develop the qualities of character without having the Spirit is to put the cart before the horse.
When a person is born again and becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within them. Jesus Christ spoke of the Day of Pentecost when he said in John 14:16,17, "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.". Looking back on the Day of Pentecost, Paul would say in 1 Corinthians 6:19, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?". The indwelling of the Holy Spirit serves many purposes in the believer, including giving him or her power for Christian living and witness (Acts 1:8).
So how can a person be born again? This is dealt with in more detail in other places on this home page, but the central verse is John 3:16-18, which says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." To be born again means to trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, that He died in your place.
So while many people might want love, joy and peace in their lives without coming to God or getting "religious", the Bible teaches that the correct order is:
Have you been born again, or are you trying to develop love, joy and peace in your life without the benefits of the Holy Spirit. Most importantly, do you know whether you will go to Heaven or Hell when you reach the end of your days? The Bible says that we can have peace with God and the assurance of sins forgiven and a home in Heaven. Do not let this day end until you have made peace with God through Jesus Christ.
All quotations from the New International Version of the Bible. This translation is available in most bookstores, both religious and secular, and is used by a wide variety of Christian denominations.