Why do we fill the Christmas season with so much stress and busyness?
One Christmas tradition I enjoy happens at the close of our Christmas Eve service. As we light candles and quietly sing Silent Night, the peace, at least for a moment, is captivating. It’s a gift.
The gift of peace is becoming more valuable all the time. So much in our world threatens peace. The mad rush of the season is nothing compared with the wars throughout the world. Can you imagine what it is like to live in a war-torn country? The turmoil and constant threat of war in the Middle East is one example of this unrest. Where is the peace on earth and good will toward man?
Some of our bravest young men and women will celebrate Christmas in such places. As they defend freedom and fight terrorism, let us honor them for their sacrifices and prayerfully remember them. Pray also for peace.
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (I Timothy 2:1).
A word for the season
Peace is a good word for the Christmas season. When the prophet predicted the coming of Jesus, the messiah, he referred to him as the “prince of peace” and wrote, “of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end” (Isaiah 9:6-7). After Jesus’ birth, “…a great company of the heavenly host appeared…praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests’” (Luke 2:13-14).
Peace on earth?
During a time of war, one poet found it hard to believe the Christmas message of peace on earth. Upon news of his son being wounded in the American Civil warn, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the poem, “I heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Those faced with war can identify with Longfellow’s words:
“I heard the bells on Christmas day; Their old familiar carols play, And wild and sweet the words repeat Of peace on earth, good will to men. And in despair I bowed my head ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said, ‘For hate is strong and mocks the song Of peace on earth, good will to men.’”
A glorious moment of peace?
Someone cynically suggested that peace is that glorious moment in history when everyone stops to reload. What does it say about us that humans are known more for war than peace? Extended times of peace are exceptional to humanity rather than normal. Safety and security are continuously threatened by the forces of evil on every level of life and maintaining peace is costly.
Why does it seem strange to some that we need a Savior who brings peace as the Prince of peace? On one occasion, Jesus said, “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).
The peace Jesus gives has four dimensions.
1. Vertical: Peace with God
“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us” (Romans 5:1, NLT).
2. Horizontal: Peace between people — even those who are hostile toward each other.
“For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. …. He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us” (Ephesians 2:14,17-18, NLT).
3. Internal: Peace within
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT).
God’s peace can conquer our deepest anxieties.
4. Eternal: Peace forever!
“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end” (Isaiah 9:6-7, NLT).
The same prophetic scriptures predicting the arrival and crucifixion of Jesus report that one day he will rule a kingdom on earth characterized by peace. Only His government will bring eternal peace.
To his words of despair, Longfellow added:
“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: ‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail With peace on earth, good will to men.’”
Before Jesus returns to rule, he invites all people to receive him as Savior and through Him to find forgiveness and peace with God. He then calls his followers to “…let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15) and to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9).
God’s great gift of peace is available to all people who acknowledge their sin and their need for the Jesus Christ to be their Savior.
Share this great message with others!