Out on the sunny beaches of Indonesia, it takes extra special intentionality to remember that Christmas is coming. There are no sensory stimuli to remind us that it’s only a month away.
And actually, BBC is making it a little hard to get into the mood. I mean, to be honest, some of their “tidings” are just downright scary. And it’s the polar opposite of the carols that I remember singing from my youth about “Peace on Earth.” Leave it to your Facebook friends to fill you in on any stories you might have missed. You know… the really gruesome ones. The background information about the bad guys. The leaked stories about the imminent attacks that are to come.
It’s CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!!! Where is peace on earth????
This morning I sat down to think about that concept… that cozy and inspiring three-word phase that floats through the crisp December air, landing on wanting ears and warming the heart. So I did a scripture search to look for it.
Friends and Family, this is not going to be the normal Christmas letter. This is a topic that has been growing in my heart recently. And today it has to be shared.
The Bible doesn’t promise peace on earth.
I did the phrase search in three different versions. None of them say this. As a matter of fact, the only exact hits that I found were 3 renditions of, “Don’t think I came to bring peace on earth.” And the fourth hit was in Revelation 6, saying that a red horse will come with a rider who will take peace from the earth. (Has anyone seen a red horse in your neighborhood? I feel like he has been traipsing around through the news lately.)
But wait a minute… what about that Christmas play line that I practiced over and over: Glory to God in the highest and on Earth, peace and good will toward men!
So I searched that sentence in a few versions too. Nope. That’s not there either. It actually says:
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14
So who are “those on whom his favor rests?” As I searched Scripture for those who found favor with God, a unifying theme amongst them are that they trust and follow Him. If we know Jesus, we should have peace. That was His purpose in coming… to bring peace to His followers. Ephesians 2:14 says that He is our peace. And if we aren’t feeling it? Maybe it’s time to set up another coffee date with Him. He has so much more to show us.
The Scripture is just full reminders of where peace is and should be:
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts… Colossians 3:15
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8
The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. Psalm 29:11
Do we know Immanuel well enough to trust His promises?
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3
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
Do we already celebrate, as the Heavenly Host did, that no matter how bad things get, our team wins?
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. Romans 16:20a
…He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:4
If the real peace that can be found on earth is supposed to already be with us, then we can’t join the masses that are panic-stricken by the news. Remember, that “sweet little baby boy” came to DIE for our peace! (Isaiah 53) We can’t let our minds become overtaken by the evil of the earth!
The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6
I wonder if we need to spend less time focused on the enemies in the news, and more time focused on the enemy of our souls, the Robber of Peace. Because if we don’t have peace in our hearts… and there’s no promise of peace on earth… then the world is truly hopeless.
I have to admit that I once thought that if I had been a disciple post-crucifixion, I might have been the one that remembered that “minor detail” He mentioned to us about coming back in three days. I would hate to think that I would have been one of the 12 all huddled up and hiding in a dead-bolted room, fearful for my safety. But the reality is, I probably would have been right there with them. Maybe you would have been too? In the wake of world news, it could be a bit tempting to go find one of those rooms and lock up for awhile. And why? Because the Robber of Peace has visited us. And what did Jesus bring the disciples in their fear… and through the locked doors? AND TWICE?
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” John 20:19
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” John 20:26
No. I don’t think I would have done any better than they did. Jesus, will you come in to your disciples, yet again, and bring peace?
We have a dear national friend here who tells an incredible story of his younger years spent in strict religious school training. He had always been inquisitive and once asked his teacher what would happen if he ever touched a Bible. The answer: You’d be struck dead by lightning. For years, he lived in fear of not being able to perfectly accomplish all of the rules and requirements of his religion. And then, in a miraculous series of events (including a vision/dream where Jesus came to him), he chose Truth. For the last 30 years, he has been sharing his story through books and through word. When asked what the biggest life change was at the point of him choosing Jesus, he replies emphatically, “Peace.” No more striving. No more fearful rule-following. And, one by one, each of his family members have said that the same was true for them.
During this holiday, I don’t think we can plan to find peace on earth. I just don’t think we’re going to find it there. We must find it in the manger. We must find it at the cross.
May Jesus appear to you this season and proclaim again the peace that is yours because of Him.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7