Let There Be Peace on Earth
We have a problem Houston; there is not peace on earth. No kidding, and there never has been ever since God created heaven and earth and made man in His image and Likeness. Now I realize that this is the Christmas, the Season of Lights and Advent, all the more reason to talk about this problem and opportunity.
You see God had to send His Son, Jesus to earth because of the mess we had made of it. It seems that humankind was just not willing or able to make peace or be peacemakers. We hadn’t trusted God, since the time of Satan in the garden. The first human born son killed his brother. Everyone sinned against God. So God sent a flood, allowing Noah’s family to live for a fresh start. But soon we unraveled the peace, trying to build a tower of Babel, and Sodom and Gomorra went wild. Then there was later the slavery of God’s chosen people for 400 years in Egypt. Praise God as He appointed Moses to go and set His people free, hallelujah, not so fast. Almost immediately they complained and grumbled even though God was showing them miracles like the parting of the Red Sea and bringing water out of rock. They still wanted to go back into slavery, the familiar thing where they were being slowly murdered for a pile of bricks in a pyramid. But they would have onions and leeks. God needed to end this thankless generation. No it does not make sense unless you recognize that God is holy and also gave us free will. Satan, the “angel of light,” thrown from heaven for pride and disobedience was and is prowling around looking for someone to devour. We are a prideful people, wanting control and our way, not God’s.
You know that the prophet Isaiah 700 years before Christ’s incarnation called Him the Prince of Peace. Jesus said after His resurrection “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you not as the world gives I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, do not be afraid” (John 14:27). He knew that the disciples were terrified and hiding from the Romans and Jewish religious leaders. So He sent His Holy Spirit to counsel, comfort and convict His flock.
However, in the gospel of Matthew He said something pretty scary. ‘“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword’” (Matthew 10:34). He was speaking about the conflict between those who believe and those who do not. He was speaking to families where one trusts in Jesus as Savior and Lord and another does not. This creates pain, not peace.
When I became a Christian, my mother, who was supposedly a baptized Presbyterian, said, “I didn’t bring you up this way,” meaning as a believer. It was only near her death, while she was ravaged by dementia, that I was able to lead her to a saving faith and the light finally shined in her heart. The same obtained for my father, finally giving up his anger and unforgiveness of Germans from WWII, repenting and receiving the Lord on my last visit to ever see him alive. This is the peace on earth that should begin with each of us as the song says but often eludes all of us.
Unfortunately, I find family feuds very common in my ministry as a hospital chaplain. Battles go on every day, family members taking entrenched positions, heartbroken over decisions made. The ministry of reconciliation is hard to bring when divisive issues might have been going on for decades. Well my own family feud has also been going on for decades and I pray that God would intervene and bring an end to it.
So, we are reminded at Christmastide that Perfect Love in Jesus Christ has come down as the angel proclaimed, “Peace on earth and goodwill to all men on whom His favor rests.” His desire is that all would come to know Him and find peace with God and the God of Peace as Philippians 4 so beautifully promises as we praise Him and pour out our anxieties, pains and struggles on Him in prayer. He said do not be afraid, be of good cheer and stand firm in His promises. “You will keep in perfect peace whose mind is steadfast” (Isaiah 26:3). This is the awesome truth. He is the reason for the season and the Author of peace as we trust in Him. Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah.