As a child, Christmas [for me, not my parents :-)] was largely about the presents. Not just the ones I would receive, but the ones I would give. I remember one Christmas, walking into my Aunt Nancy’s house and seeing a mound of gifts under her Christmas tree such as I had never seen before. It was irrelevant that only a few of the gifts were for me. In my childish mind, the abundance of gifts represented a good Christmas.
Thankfully, I’ve matured over the years. Gifts are much less of the focus. In fact, celebrating Jesus has become the focus. As part of this year’s celebration, I’ve been meditating on Jesus as our Prince of Peace. This characteristic of Jesus was prophesied by Isaiah when he foretold a child being born. Not only would He be a Wonderful Counselor, He would be God himself — Mighty God, Everlasting Father. As God, He would also be the Prince of Peace, the One to ultimately bring peace on earth.
This fact was reiterated the night Jesus was born. After an angel told the shepherds that a Savior, the long-awaited Messiah was born:
“A great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests’” (Luke 2:14).
Jesus came to bring peace on earth. Yet we look around and see a grave lack of peace. There have been acts of terrorism this very week. The tragedy in Aleppo continues. And in the U.S., we’ve come through a very divisive political season where peace between various people groups appears to have taken a step backward.
We also know the lack of peace within our families and even in our own hearts. A popular blogger I follow conducted a survey among her readers. Their number one desire was peace — peace in the world, peace in their homes and peace in their hearts.
While Isaiah’s prophesy will ultimately be fulfilled with Jesus’ second coming, there is a peace — an experience and manifestation of the Prince of Peace — we can know now. These are the gifts I wish for you this Christmas, gifts you and I can keep receiving long after the season is over:
The gift of Peace with God.
If you are a child of God, a person saved by the grace of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus, then you have peace with God. Jesus paid our debt, canceled out our sin and now covers us in His righteousness. His peace with God is now our peace with God.
If you are not a child of God, I pray you will turn to God and receive peace as you are brought into a right relationship with Him. Scripture says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But the verse doesn’t stop there; it tells of the greatest gift we will ever receive: “And (all) are justified (made right, given peace with God) freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24, words in parentheses are mine).
Through an understanding of peace with God, we get a true picture and accurate definition of peace. Peace is not simply a lack of conflict. Peace is the ability to have oneness — oneness with God.
I wish for you a profound understanding and experience of peace/oneness with God. It’s the source of all true life:
“This is eternal life, that they may know you (have intimacy, oneness with) you the One True God and Jesus Christ whom You send” John 17:3).
The gift of the peace of God.
Because we have peace/oneness with God, we can now experience the peace of God. This peace is defined as a state of undisturbed, untroubled well-being. I love how my Greek dictionary explains it:
“Such a state of peace is the object of divine promise and is brought about by God’s mercy, granting deliverance and freedom from all the distresses that are experienced as a result of since. This peace can only be the result of reconciliation with God.”
Jesus said we can have peace amidst the most unsettling circumstances:
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
Peace apart from God requires “peaceful” circumstances. God’s peace is available in spite of our circumstances.
I wish I could tell you that I live in the peace of God every day. I want to, but I also know an experience of such peace isn’t something we can manufacture. It comes from God when we cast our cares on Him, present our requests to Him and rejoice even if what we’re going through isn’t joyful ( Philippians 4:4-7). It’s also something we must believe God for, and sometimes in our believing, we wait to receive it:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
A friend recently told me she wrote that verse in permanent marker on a wall in her house. I thought she was joking. She wasn’t! She’s desperate for the peace of God, and she’s asking and believing God for it.
The gift of peace on earth.
In Ephesians 2:14 Paul wrote that “Jesus Himself is our peace.” In its context, this passage tells how Jews and Gentiles could have oneness. It explains how, through Jesus, these two groups of people who’d been enemies for centuries could become “one new man out of two.” Paul describes how the body (death and resurrection) and life of Jesus (including the life of Christ in us now) could bring reconciliation and put to death their hostility toward one another (Ephesians 2:11-18).
While these truths are deeply theological, they are also highly practical. If oneness could come to these two groups, cannot / should not God’s people be conduits of peace in all manner of conflicts and divisions?
Where can you bring peace/oneness in your family? With what people group does God want you to be a conduit of reconciliation?
The song says it so well.
As I’ve pondered Jesus as our Prince of Peace, the words to “Let There Be Peace On Earth” have come to my mind repeatedly:
“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.
With God has our Father, brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony.”
The song was written in 1955 by Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller. It’s recorded that Jackson, who was suicidal after the failure of her marriage, wrote the song after discovering the “life-saving joy of God’s peace and unconditional love.”
In recent years, people have changed the words and even taken out the phrase “with God as our Father.” The problem is, you can’t take God out of the peace equation and still have true and lasting peace.
May each one of us receive God’s gift of Jesus — our Prince of Peace. May you know and enjoy peace with God. May the peace of God flood your heart, even as you wait and believe Him for it. And May God’s people everywhere be conduits of His peace to earth.
Other posts you may find helpful, especially when peace alludes you: