By Steve Horn
This year at Christmas, in our church, we are on a journey to Activate Advent.
Yesterday (Dec. 10), we talked about the idea of “peace.” Peace has always been associated with Christmas. Such was the case on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day of 1914. The German troops and the Allied troops participated in a Christmas Truce in the middle of World War I.
Though versions of exactly what happened are sketchy, the common thread in most accounts is that peace, albeit short-lived, happened in the name of Christmas. German and Allied troops sang carols together, exchanged gifts, and more than one account suggests that they had a friendly game of soccer.
Christmas songs long for peace in the midst of war. “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” is from a poem by William Wadsworth Longfellow in the Days of America’s Civil War. “Do You Hear What I Hear” was written during the days of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
We long for peace—peace with our past, peace with others, and ultimately with God. Isaiah prophesied the Messiah to be the Prince of Peace. The angels sang of peace. Jesus declared that “in Him” was peace. Jesus offered a greeting of peace to the one history has called “Doubting Thomas.” Paul counseled to let the peace of God rule in our hearts. Best of all, Jesus wants to bring peace in our lives now.
On the night of Jesus’ birth the angels announced: Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors! (Luke 2:14)
Peace is connected to His glory and His grace. The more we behold His glory, the more we will be at peace. The reception of His grace (favor) is the requirement to be at peace. This announcement is tantamount to the saying, Know Jesus; Know peace. No Jesus; No peace.
But, please understand, though peace is a Christmas message, peace is not just a Christmas message. In preparation for His death, Jesus encouraged the disciples to have His peace.
We read in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.”
Then in John 16:33, we read, “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”
His peace is contrasted to the problems we will face in this world.
Then, in John 20, the peace of Jesus is reaffirmed. In fact, peace is connected to the invitation to follow Jesus.
So What? How do we activate peace in our lives?
We must trust in Him for everything including our eternal destiny.
We find our peace in His peace, not our peace.
We must talk to Him about everything.
Philippians 4:6-7 says:
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
We must turn to Him.
Let’s end where we started with the announcement from the angels.
Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to people He favors!
I think about the hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.”
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
Steve Horn is pastor of First Baptist Church, Lafayette. This article first appeared on his blog.