Peace on Earth?
‘And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased”’ — Luke 2:13
‘And on earth peace…’
Peace on earth?
Peace on earth? Have you looked at earth lately?
Is this a fanciful dream? Is this a sinister joke?
Can it be true? Surely it can’t, not after what the human race has endured in the last two thousand years.
Two millennia of world history is little more than an unfortunate recounting of humanity’s wars. Even now, the pattern is trending in an ominous direction.
Have you noticed that Western Civilization is at war? Our moral foundations, our liberal democracy, and our religious legacy are coming under assault. Think about the sleaze studios of pornographers, the subjective relativism of the academy, and the depraved butchery of Islamic radicals. Make no mistake: We are at war.
There is no peace on earth.
But we cannot dismiss the angelic announcement as a farce. We must embrace it by faith.
‘Peace on earth’
It came from the mouth of an angel of the most high God. He’s said, ‘There’s a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. And you know what that means? It means peace on earth!’
How so? Well, the Bible has a word that tells us what peace is.
It’s the word ‘shalom’ — a Hebrew word that means something quite wonderful. It means ‘well-being.’ Peace means that I am well. I’m whole, perfect, and content.
Of course, well-being is what we all want. Peace doesn’t depend on us, because we can’t get it by ourselves. Typically, well-being is dependent on factors beyond our control, such as circumstances or relationships.
My heart goes out to the families of fourteen people in San Bernardino who were executed by two radical Islamists. Their peace was shattered by outside influences.
So what do we make of the angelic announcement ‘Peace on earth’? Is it a cruel trick or is it true?
There once was peace on earth, in a garden called Eden. The first man and woman, Adam and Eve, enjoyed complete contentment and peace among thousands of trees bearing the most delectable fruit. Their peace had nothing to do with the endless orchard, or the pleasing temperatures, or even each other’s company. No, it had to do with one thing: God.
What’s so special about that?
God is special. There’s no one like him. God possesses two things: power and love. Our God is strong enough to control the influences, circumstances, events, and relationships in our lives. He’s also loving enough to insure that all things work for our good. Those two things produce perfect peace.
When you walk with this God — when you stay close to him — you will have peace.
‘The mind stayed on God is kept in perfect peace’ – Isaiah 26:3
The problem is this: Our minds don’t stay on God.
Adam’s and Eve’s minds drifted away from God, running off in all directions and chasing their own interests. As humans, we jettison from God to do life our own way. The consequences are shattering. We bolt from the garden and spurn our best Friend. We lose the source of our peace. We lose God!
We have recorded thirty-five hundred years of human history in which there has been no peace or well-being. We see only war, divorce, and broken hearts. And there is nothing any person can do about it. No politician, educator, general, counselor, philosophical optimist, romantic novelist, or positive-thinking guru can restore the peace.
There you have it: The human predicament.
At least, until the blessed night when a rabble of shepherds in the fields outside Jerusalem were accosted by a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased’ – Luke 2:14
What in the world was this all about?
Well it’s about a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. A baby born in a cattle trough and bound for a criminal’s cross where he would reconcile us to God, ‘making peace by the blood of his cross.’ – Colossians 1:20
Jesus, the baby who would one day die in order to take away our sin so that we could once again be near God.
God, who is strong enough to control the circumstances of our lives, is also loving enough to work all things for our good. This is a God who, alone in the whole universe, can give us perfect peace.
A baby has come, and with him, peace on earth.
The problem is, too many people don’t know about it. A headline in one of our national newspapers after the bloodbath in San Bernardino read ‘God Isn’t Fixing This’.
The headline is right, God isn’t fixing this.
Because he has already fixed it.
Jesus Christ the Lord brought peace on earth.
Jesus himself says to his followers in the book of John, chapter 14 verse 27, ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled.’
The apostle Paul says, ‘Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.’ (Colossians 3:15)
Our hearts and our minds can be at perfect peace, no matter what troubles surround us. ‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me’ (Psalm 23:4). Why? Because we have the peace of Christ dwelling within us, pointing us to the power of God over all things and the love of God for us. And that peace should be radiating outward from Christians to the world around us.
We know Christ’s peace, though we lose our incomes.
We know Christ’s peace, though our children are injured.
We know Christ’s peace, though ISIS slaughters towns.
The peace of Christ ruling in our hearts is the only source of peace on earth. We know that God is strong enough, and loving enough, to work everything for good as he defines good, which is perfectly.
In the babe of Bethlehem, God has restored his presence in your life, and my life. He has restored perfect peace and absolute well-being.
Glory to God in the highest!
‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.’ — Psalm 46:1-2
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