“Peace on earth, good will to men, Peace on earth, good will to men, Peace on earth, good will to men.” We hear it repeated many times during the Christmas season. It all started when shouted by the angels to the shepherds on the hills around Bethlehem. Immediately all wars, all conflict, all strife ceased. And peace ruled “on earth” because Jesus had been born. Right? Wrong.
But isn’t that the portrait of “peace on earth” that most of us have when we hear the phrase? 2,000 years later is there any more of that kind of peace? Probably less. Is “Peace on earth” simply a cliché to be used during December? Can’t be. It came from God through the mouths of angels, so there has to be reality resident in those words.
December 9 is the second Sunday of Advent for the Christian church. During worship we light the Peace Candle that proclaims to us that CHRIST is our PEACE. What is that about?
Well, here’s what Jesus said… "Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division." (Luke 12:51) OK. THAT is not what we expected. The Apostle Paul tells us,
"Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape." 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3
Perhaps it was a moment of peace in the stable. If so, it didn’t last long. The nativity family was running for their lives within weeks of the angels showing up to the shepherds. What were the angels talking about? Of all the things they could have said, God told them to declare, “Peace on earth.” It was an important message. So what were the angels announcing?
That Jesus Christ Himself will be our peace…
"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility," Ephesians 2:13-14 (NIV)
That we can have peace no matter the circumstances we face…
""I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."" John 16:33 (NIV)
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27 (NIV)
“Peace on earth” is about inside tranquility right in the middle turbulence.
Which begs the question, “How can we experience this peace?”
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:6-9 (NIV)
As long as we seek peace for peace sake we will be frustrated. When we seek God Himself, the Christ of Christmas, the Jesus who lived and died for us in the years following Bethlehem, peace will come with Him into our souls.
The Advent season directs us to seek Christ, who is our peace. Only then will His peace come to every place on earth where a person has given Him possession of his or his life.
The peace that
makes no sense at all
but that brings settles our hearts and minds.
Ultimately it causes us to look forward to the day we will see Jesus and experience perfect, complete and eternal peace.
"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)
So for you, this week of the Advent season, I wish you His Peace!