|Peace: Christmas Eve 2010|
|December 23, 2010|
Part 1 of 1 | December 24, 2010
Iíll be honest. It sounds like a bunch of sappy sentimentality. Anyone who lives in the real world cannot believe itís possible. Itís never been done, and itís hard to believe that it ever will be done.
The ďitĒ that Iím talking about is peace on earth. Thatís one of the mantras that we hear every Christmas. Peace on earth, goodwill toward men. We sang about it during our Christmas series here at ACC this year. Itís on Christmas cards and decorations. And yet, like a lot of stuff around Christmastime, it just seems to be seasonal sentimentality. Everybody says it, but nobody actually believes it. And come January, no one will even talk about it anymore. At least not until next December.
Hereís the problem, though. Itís in the Bible. Itís not just in Christmas songs and on Christmas cards. Itís in the Bible. And if the Bible says it, we canít write it offÖeven if we donít think itís possibleÖbecause God said that it is possible. And He said it through the angels that announced the birth of Jesus in Luke 2.
Starting in verse 8, the Bible says, ďAnd there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, ďFear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.Ē
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ďGlory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.Ē (Luke 2:8-14, KJV)
Christmas and peace are like hand in glove. The coming of Jesus was supposed to bring peace on earth. But the problem isÖit didnít.
Iraq. Afghanistan. North Korea. Iran. The very mention of those nations conjures up a lot of different pictures in our mindsÖbut peace is not one of them.
In his book, Running on Empty, Arron Chambers wrote that, ďSince 3600 BC, the world has only known 292 years of peace! Outside those few peaceful times, there have been 14,351 wars, large and small, in which 3.64 billion people have been killed. The value of the property destroyed would pay for a golden belt around the world 97.2 miles wide and 33 feet thick.Ē (Chambers, Arron. Running on Empty: Life Lessons to Refuel Your Faith. City: Life Journey, 2005, pg. 125.)
Peace sounds like a pipe dream. Itís one place where it just seems like the Bible got it wrong. But thatís because we donít understand the peace that the Bible is talking about.
In Matthew 24, Jesus Himself said, ďYou will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.Ē (Matthew 24:6-7a, NIV)
Political peace is never going to be a lasting reality in our world. Ever. But the peace that the angels announced when Jesus was born isnít political peace. Itís peace of a much different, and much deeper, variety.
When you listen to this prophecy from the book of Micah, it becomes much clearer. Micah 5 says, ďBut you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. [obviously this is a prophecy about the coming of Jesus]
He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be their peace.Ē (Micah 5:2, 4-5, NIV)
The prophet Micah wrote this about 400 years before Jesus was born. He wrote it in a time of war and great political upheaval. But through all of it, he was able to see what we tend to forget.
Jesus is our peace. That was what Micah promised when he prophesied about Jesusí birth. He said that Jesus would be our peace.
He didnít say that the government will be our peace. We all know that that will never happen.
But he also didnít say that our money would be our peace. Or our job would be our peace.
He didnít say that your marriage would be your peace. Or your family would be your peace.
When you think about it, there are times when Christmas actually robs us of peace because it highlights everything that is going wrong in our lives.
ďWe couldnít buy many gifts because Iíve been out of a job. The economy has really hit us hard, and Christmas just reminds us of our problems.Ē
ďMy family is all getting together, and that automatically means that there will be tension. Itís supposed to be a time of joy, but it turns into a huge drama every year. Peace on earth? Not in this family.Ē
The Bible didnít say that our family or our money or anything else in our lives would be our peace. God promised that Jesus would be our peace.
Peace in the middle of a world that is at war. Peace during a recession. Peace in the middle of crazy family issues. Peace that surpasses anything this world can throw at us.
On the surface, the announcement of peace on earth by the angels sounds like a delusional fantasyÖbut it can actually become a reality when we remember to seek peace in the right place. This Christmas, remember where peace is really found. Itís not found in a stocking or under a tree. Itís not found in big meals or family gatherings. I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday. I really do. But thatís not where real peace is found.
In another prophecy about the birth of Jesus, Isaiah says, ďFor 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.Ē (Isaiah 9:6-7a, NIV)
For a lot of us, 2010 has been a rough year. And 2011 looks like it will bring more instability and uncertainty. But peace isnít based on your situation or your circumstances. Itís not based on anything you did or didnít do. Itís based on Jesus. The Prince of Peace.
The peace He offers is not conditional. And itís not seasonal. When you truly know Jesus, His peace doesnít leave once Christmas is over. For those of us who know Jesus, peace on earth isnít just a Christmas card slogan. Itís a way of life. Because we know that He will never leave us, we live with peace that will never, ever end.
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