As we proceed into the heart of the Christmas season we have been looking at 3 elements of the Christian interpretation of the holiday that even those who want a secular celebration try to include. Those 3 elements are joy, peace and love. We know that these three things can never be fully realized unless we know Jesus. This puts us in a position of advantage during this season. We have what the world is thinking of at this time of year. We need to use that advantage and share the Gospel.
This week we are studying bible peace. In Luke 2 we read about the wonderful announcement made to the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ Birth.
Once again this is not an announcement of peace among men as the world would like us to believe. This is much more important than that. It is an announcement of peace between God and man. The angels proclaim “goodwill toward men.” The birth of Jesus was the beginning of the end of a conflict between God and man that began with Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden. Jesus was born in fulfillment of Genesis 3:15. In this verse God told Satan that one would come who would be born in a supernatural way. This person would defeat Satan and take away all that he had gained in the fall of man.
Jesus was born of a virgin. His father was God himself. He was the fulfillment of this prophecy and the one who could and would bring peace between God and man. That is what we celebrate. The focus on peace between nations or groups is wonderful and to be desired. It is not the peace celebrated at Christmas.
The nature of this peace is not corporate but individual. What Jesus won for us is the right to come to God freely and accept His terms of peace. Each person can do that now. Each person must do that for himself. It does not happen automatically. Once we accept God’s conditions, we not only have peace with God but the door is opened for us to experience this peace on a personal level. We need to have this functioning within us if we are going to communicate peace to those around us at Christmas.
What is this perfect peace noted in Isaiah 26? Let’s look at some definitions. Webster defines peace as freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions. Thayer’s bible dictionary defines it as , the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ. Both definitions are opposite of one of the characteristic conditions of this season. Stress. Our society in general is one in which stress seems to be a part of everyday life. At Christmas this is often intensified because of the obligations of the season. Peace is God’s answer to stress.
Stress can produce sickness, high blood pressure and all kinds of emotional issues. Peace produces a sense of wellbeing and a quietness of mind. Stress causes everything to feel out of control while peace puts us in control of any and every situation. Stress will make it difficult to stand in the face of the smallest problem while, if we have peace, we can stand through and gain victory over the hardest trials. Peace is ours to walk in because of what God set into motion in the birth of Christ.
Let’s look a little closer at the peace God offers us. Thayer’s goes on to describe peace as, “fearing nothing from God and therefore being content with our earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is.” When we know that we are right with God we can be content. Contentment should not be confused with complacency. On the contrary when we are content in our relationship with God it frees us to believe for major change in our circumstances. This is because we have what matters most so if things don’t work out as we think they should it does not put us into a position of stress. We have peace, so we simply continue to trust God and follow His direction until we see the victory.
It is disconcerting to our enemy, the devil, when he seems to win but we still have peace in our hearts. I often think of the trial of Jesus in this light. The world around him was in complete turmoil. Even Pontius Pilot, who was the Roman governor feared the crowd. In the midst of the insanity stood Jesus. He had the most to lose. He was facing what looked like the ultimate defeat of God’s plan and yet He was an island of calm in the midst of a storm. In the end He won the greatest victory ever won. Peace is the key to ultimate victory in your life as well.
A popular thing to say as we part company today is, “Take care!” We mean this in a positive way, and I don’t want to get legalistic about not saying this phrase, but if we think of it, it is reflective of the stress we live under. Care in this context means exactly the opposite of peace. Where peace is freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions, care in this context refers to those very thoughts and emotions. We think we must take those thoughts upon ourselves if we are going to be responsible and safe. In bygone days the parting words were “peace to you” or “go in peace.” Maybe we should make a change to the old way.
Peace was made available to you by the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus. We celebrate this peace at Christmas. As you go about your day, think about the peace that Jesus provided for us. Let His peace come into you heart and let that peace be communicated to someone else. It might be carried in a kind word, a hug or some other gesture. Look for someone who is full of stress and share the peace of God with them. The Lord will show you how. You are a carrier of God’s peace. Let’s make this Christmas be a season of peace for you all around you.