Peace On Earth?

Christmas Season speaks often of peace.  I mean, after all, the angels announced to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (KJV).  

Even if you prefer another translation, such as the ESV (which I do), the note of peace is still there: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased.”

Peace is elusive, though, isn’t it?  

Peace is also so subject to numerous iterations and definitions.  

There’s political peace. Emotional peace. Relational peace. Inner peace. Peace of mind. Denominational peace. Educational peace. Peace like a river. And the ever-popular “World Peace” (at least among beauty pageant contestants).  And oh, don’t forget that extra piece of chocolate pie (OK, that’s a totally different word, just checking your pulse out there my faithful four readers).    

But what kind of peace did Jesus come to bring?  

If He intended to install world peace in the political sense, then He failed.  Or, maybe He just hasn’t intended to install that kind of peace yet.  The Bible says that day is not yet, but surely coming.  I’ve read the end of the Book.  I know how this all ends.  The Prince of Peace returns to make His enemies His footstool and He reigns in absolute peace over His redeemed people forever.  

So the question remains – what kind of peace did Jesus come to bring? In His first advent?  

Can we just get downright honest and say it must not, indeed cannot, be any other kind of peace except spiritual peace with God?!  The Christians in Northeast Nigeria who continue to endure beheadings, rapes, pillaging, and burnings of women, children, crops, homes, and houses of worship, at the hands of Muslim extremists, surely have no political, emotional, mental, or physical peace whatsoever!  And this scenario plays itself out all across the world every day.  These precious suffering saints are experiencing first-hand the truth of Christ’s words:

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt 10:34-39).  

Well, that’s doesn’t sound much like “Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays” to me.  No! It sounds more like a radical call to selfless submission to the Lordship of King Jesus.  It sounds like a clarion call to love Christ so deeply and lavishly that nothing or no one else could even be said to compare.  It sounds like an invitation, in the words of Bonhoeffer, to “come and die.”  

And thus, truly live.  

And find the truest depth of peace available to anyone in this life full of trials and temptations.  

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

by Keith McWhorter