Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace, goodwill to men. (Luke 2:14)
The angels announced peace on earth to the shepherds. Linus announced it to Charlie Brown.
I just don’t see it.
There are wars between nations, between political parties, between races, between genders, between religions.
Where is the peace on earth?
We define peace as an absence. Military peace is an absence of war. Personal peace is an absence of stress. Both are understandable in the context. At the time of Christ’s birth, Israel had been conquered by Rome, the Jews struggled with the Gentiles and with the Samaritans, the Pharisees argued with the Sadducees. So, peace on earth was a wonderful announcement.
But the thing is, 33 years later, Jesus has been born, lived, died, been resurrected, and ascended to Heaven. And all of those conflicts are still there. There doesn’t seem to be any peace. So, what really happened?
As I thought about this over the Christmas season, I went back to the Old Testament and studied the meaning of the Hebrew word for peace, Shalom. It turns out that this word isn’t about an absence of war or an absence of stress. It means “to be complete or sound.”
So, maybe the angels weren’t announcing an end to war or strife, but a completion. The time creation waited for God’s salvation is completed. God’s plan for mankind’s rescue is almost completed. Human beings themselves can be completed through the arrival of this baby.
Peace isn’t an absence; it’s a presence. And it’s only found in the presence of God, of Christ, of the Spirit. Peace entered the world that first Christmas.
In theology classes, we often discuss the concept of ‘already/not yet’. There are many things that have already
I think peace may fit in this category, too. One day, peace will be everywhere without exception because God will reign. But with the Nativity, peace entered the world in the form of the son of God, Jesus.
Many of us hope for peace this new year. I too would love peace in my life. Before, I’ve always sought peace as an absence. I sought to remove things from my life, hoping it would bring me peace. I even prayed that God would remove things. But, Jesus didn’t remove any of the stress of the first Christmas. He stepped into strife and was the peace in the midst of the struggle.
This year, my hope for you – and for me – is that we seek Him. May the Prince of peace fill and even dominate our days. Now, I don’t ask for Him to take anything away. I simply ask Him to be in the midst of it with me. And I pray He walks with you through the joy and stress of this new year.
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