The world wants nothing to do with the Christian Celebration of Christmas. It s fine for us to keep our ideas in our churches but if we take them into our communities someone will complain about separation of church and state. Even though these complaints are from a small minority of people, often their rights are protected while the rights of those of us who believe in the true meaning of Christmas are trampled. I wonder sometimes why some of us don’t proclaim that we are “offended” by the lack of a Nativity Scene in our community? I wonder what would happen if we filed some lawsuits? That’s probably a bad idea, but it is an interesting thought.
In this space I have been pointing out that the world does want certain elements of the Christian celebration of Christmas even if they don’t want Christ himself. These elements are joy, peace and love. This week we are looking at peace.
The angels made a wonderful proclamation in Luke chapter 2. They declared peace on earth and goodwill toward men. This is important because most of the world and much of the church think this peace is among men. They think it is peace between nations or families or even individuals. That is not what the angels were proclaiming. It was the ability for there to be peace between God and man that the angels were talking about. Jesus birth put in motion a process whereby that peace would be possible for the first time since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden.
Yesterday we talked about the nature of this peace. It is defined as the freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions. Theyer’s bible dictionary defines it as, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ. Both of these things reveal peace as the antidote to one of the major problems of modern life and the Christmas season in particular. I am speaking of the problem of stress. Peace is God’s solution for stress.
Today let’s talk about the source of this peace. In our study of joy we found that the joy of Christmas is not natural joy. It is not even our joy. It is the joy of the Lord. The source of this joy is not in us but in God and in our salvation. The above scripture points out that peace is the same.
Jesus tells us here that He is giving His followers His peace. Furthermore He is leaving that peace with us. The parallels are interesting. Speaking of joy Jesus calls it His joy and a joy that would remain. Here He says that the peace available to us is His peace and He is leaving it with us.
Peace centered in the world is, like happiness, dependent upon outward things. When things in life change we find that we no longer have peace. The peace of the Lord is different. He says that the world did not give us this peace and therefore the world cannot take it from us. It is an inward peace that comes from God himself. It is the peace of knowing that God is in control and therefore you are safe.
Paul made some important statements in Romans 8.
These verses point out the source of our peace. God is for me. Why should I not be at peace? Nothing can separate me from His love. Why would I give into stress?
Since we know that the peace we are referring to does not have it’s source within us but comes from God, we also understand that it is a peace that can stand up to anything. Yesterday I pointed out this peace as it worked in Jesus’ life at the His trial before Pilot. If this peace is strong enough to handle the stress of crucifixion for the sins of the world, I think it can handle what I face.
The issue is how can we release God’s peace into our lives? Jesus gives us a clue. We must see to it that we don’t allow our hearts to be troubled. We need to make a decision that we will not allow stress or care or worry to stay in our minds and hearts. That is our responsibility. We will look at how to do that tomorrow, but for today we need to realize that the decision to accept God’s peace is ours.
It is usually much easier to give in to the worry and stress. We need to recognize up front that we don’t have to do that. I have the peace of God in me. When I begin to feel the stress, I need to remind myself of this. I need to call on the peace of God. I need to remind myself and the devil that I am not being responsible by giving in to stress. I am being truly responsible by receiving the peace of God and walking in it. Only then will I have the right frame of mind to see God’s solutions for the problems I face and the inner courage to face whatever I must.
Let this peace of God rise to the surface in your life this week. Let it take control of the worry and strife. You will see that the peace that is yours through salvation, which was made possible by the birth of Christ, will affect you, your family and those around you. That peace can make Christmas a truly blessed season instead of a stressful one that brings more tension than joy to life.