"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this."
As Christmas approaches, churches all over the United States begin their typical "Christmas message series."
Often what this will entail is a rehash of the Christmas story, the shepherds, the wise men, the heavenly hosts singing and such...
Such statements as "peace on earth" and "goodwill toward men" begin to crop up left and right. As if they were an option the rest of the year, till now...
Pastor Jason taught on the verse above, from Isaiah, this Sunday and he raised a profound question: "What is peace?"
Sure, it isn't the first time this question has been asked, and it certainly won't be the last time. But what is peace? Do Christians fully grasp the concept? And if they don't, how then can the world understand this peace that Christ supposedly gives?
As this Christmas season kicks into full swing, I'm left thinking a lot about this word because, admittedly, we Americans live a rather chaotic sort of lifestyle. A life that is planned, and scheduled till every spare minute is accounted for.
We're budgeting our lives.
And does peace mean an absence of conflict? Or absence of chaos? What is the peace that Jesus supposedly left us?
There was a story that my mother read to me when I was growing up that deeply affected me. It was actually about Christmas, I think.
It was a story about the Great War. World War I ravaged Europe for four horrible years. German against Brit, Italian against Austro-Hungarian. Trenches were dug and camped in. For many soldiers these trenches were their graves. Generals would send their men to fight and die over, literal inches of ground. Then the next day the opposition would push them back from the ground they just took.
Death, disease, sorrow.
The reality of war.
But, in this story, something happened on Christmas Day. The guns stopped blazing, and both sides ran up a flag of truce. Men came out of the trenches, and joined together in "no man's land." and played football, shared cigarettes, and had a meal together.
As the sun set, both sides joined in a chorus of silent night, knowing that the next day, they would once again be enemies. Fighting and dying over inches of soil.
I remember, in the final pages of that book, fighting back the tears. The lump in my throat growing, making it hard to speak. I remember thinking; "Why, oh why? Why do they have to die? Why does it have to be like this? It doesn't have to be like this..."
The peace Jesus gives one who chooses to follow him, isn't a peace you can find in this world. This world has conflict, heartache and sorrow. It will until it is renewed and made complete again. This world, even in its quietest moments will remain, in God's ears, as the screams and chaos of war. So, Jesus isn't a ticket around that.
Jesus claims to have brought a peace that surpasses this world, though.
Humanity, long estranged, and at war with the heavens, has been offered peace. Peace from a divine act. We no longer are separated from the heavenly realms, because of the incredible act of the divine in flesh. The original freedom fighter.
That's the peace he brings.
That's the reason that countless Christians throughout history have been able to endure hateful words, torture, brutality, and execution. Do you think they felt peace in that trial?
I think so.
I think they knew that there was something greater happening. I think that the sheer idea of peace being made with our Creator is nothing short of infectious! It is for that reason, that countless followers of Jesus went to their graves, with nothing that the world would consider gain in their future.
But it is those Christians who have found themselves, free of the trenches, war and destruction. It's those Christians who are now, sharing with their brothers, a meal prepared for them in celebration of the Savior that was promised!
Peace has been made. Peace has been given to us!
Isn't that incredible?
This Christmas, you may find that you aren't at peace. That there is still war within, and that you feel there is no end to conflict...we've all been there. Me too.
I want you to know that there is peace to be found. It may not solve all of life's problems for you. It may not right the countless wrongs that you've endured. Jesus isn't a genie. It doesn't work like that.
This peace will keep you afloat is the raging seas.
And it will see you safely through the fire.
The peace you can have through Jesus lasts forever. It can't be touched, and it can't be broken.
It's a peace that will one day bring all forth from their graves in the trenches of life. It will be a meal. A song of harmony. A peace that won't end after a day, but will continue to endure.
We are now restored to the Creator of all, the one who holds this expansive universe in his hands. The one who cares for you, and walks with you, no matter how dark it may seem.
That, my friends, is why we celebrate the Savior's birth.