Peace. A state of mutual harmony between people or groups. The normal nonwarring condition of a nation, groups of nations or the world. State of tranquility or serenity.
That certainly doesn’t describe the state of the world I see. War upon war, rape, genocide, the slaughtering of innocent men, women and children all in attempt to fill an insatiable lust for power. Aleppo. The images, too much for the human heart to bear. We were not meant for this. The prophet Isaiah prophesied that peace would come. The Jewish people longed for it. Jesus offers it. Our world is desperate for it. So, where is this peace, where is peace for Aleppo, where is peace for the abused, where is peace for the persecuted? Where is the peace for the average joe trying to provide for his family while taking financial hit after financial hit? Our desire for peace in a turbulent and violent world can leave us confused and frustrated. But God is always with us and he is faithful to help us walk with him and trust him when we are disheartened by the rampant evil around us. We will not find peace in the things that are seen. No, we find peace in the shadows of the things unseen.
There is a tension between the peace Jesus talks about and the lack of peace that is experienced in our broken world. This tension exists because our King is present but not fully crowned and only part of God’s peace is available to us in the present. By faith, because of what Jesus Christ has done for us, we have been made right with God. (Romans 5:1) This is the peace that we get to experience on the present earth. We know that while things around us are not as they should be, it truly is well with our soul. But there is another element of Jesus’ peace that will be realized as God’s Kingdom advances and is fully consummated at some point in the future. This is the peace that promises a full restoration of all creation, a future time when the world will enjoy the harmony it had before sin entered.
In my own personal walk with Jesus, I am discovering another layer in celebrating Advent and Christmas. God is teaching me to celebrate the Incarnation as an event that marks the arrival of a Kingdom that is in the process of being fully consummated. He is teaching me a hopeful anticipation of a coming Kingdom reigned by a Righteous Judge who will rule the nations justly. A time when nations will no longer war against one another, but will live in peace. (Isaiah 2:4) This Prince of Peace will not stop until justice prevails throughout the earth, even the most distant lands will wait for his instruction. (Isaiah 42:4) At this time, even the animal kingdom will be completely transformed and restored as sins’ curse is removed. (Isaiah 11:6) There will be no sickness and no more pain. A glorious future is, indeed, in store and Christmas is the perfect time to reflect on this future. It is in these kinds of reflections that I find hope and peace for the refugee, the sick, the imprisoned, the hungry, and hurting. Everything is not okay as it is right now, but I believe in Jesus’ promise that someday, it will be. This is part of the peace alluded to in the message of Christmas.
As we reflect on the name Prince of Peace, do not loose heart that all is not peaceful in our world but rather take courage and hope in the peace that will surely come. As Christ’s ambassadors we have a responsibility to advocate for peace in our own little corners of the world. I love the Jewish word Shalom. It is a packed word that has to do with a sense of wholeness, fullness, peace and harmony. Because of Christ’s power and love in us, our lives can be a healing salve of Shalom to a hurting world. As we near the end of the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, take some time to slow down and savor the goodness of the Lord’s promise to bring peace. Let the reality of what is to come sink in a bit. If we allow that promise of peace to form how we invest our time, money, and hearts, we can join in God’s restorative work in the world. I cannot think of a better way to celebrate the birth of Jesus than to commune with Him, enjoy Him and join Him. May you be blessed this Christmas season with His love and comfort. I pray that as you are filled with his wonderful Spirit, you would be moved to join God in his restorative work as you seek to bring God’s love and peace to those around you.