Ephesians 3: 17-18
I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ…
Isaiah 9: 6-7
For 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 Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and for ever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
Andy Williams once sang that Christmas is the ‘most wonderful time of the year.’ And sometimes it is. However, for some of us, if we’re honest, it’s our least favourite time of the year.
It’s not perfect. It not peaceful. It’s not always wonderful or magical.
It’s stressful. It’s painful. It’s sorrowful.
It’s not fun-filled – it’s debt-filled.
And even if we do have something close to a perfect, peaceful Christmas, it’s hard to ignore the reality of the world all around us.
In 2016 we have watched war and conflict either break out or continue in more places than I could list here. Terrorism and the threat from so-called religious extremists is still very much a reality. We’ve seen atrocities, genocide, natural disasters, trafficking. Our world is filled with poverty, homelessness, brokenness, corruption. And don’t even get me started about the European referendum or American presidential election!
We long for the perfect, peace-filled Christmas – actually we long for the perfect, peace-filled life. But deep down we know that it’s probably not going to ever happen. Because life is … life. And life is far from perfect and peaceful.
There’s a Peanuts cartoon where Lucy says: “I hate everything I hate everybody I hate the whole wide world”
Charlie says: “But I thought you had inner peace”
Lucy replies: “I do but I also have outer obnoxiousness.”
I can relate to that.
The world Jesus was born into 2000 years ago wasn’t very peaceful. I know the Christmas cards make it look perfect. They sanitise it and commercialise it to make it all that we want the birth of the Saviour to be. But it was a time of great turmoil, oppression and upheaval.
And yet, into the chaos, into the strife and turmoil of this world – came one who was called ‘The Prince of Peace.’
That’s what was prophesied about Jesus by Isaiah over 700 years before he was born:
“For to us a child is born…he will be called….Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
After Jesus was born, the shepherds encounter a choir of angels who sing:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth….” (Luke 2:14)
So Jesus is the Prince of peace, and He offers peace here on earth. How we long to see this peace become a reality.
U2 wrote a song called “Peace on Earth.”
Heaven on earth
We need it now
I’m sick of all of this
Sick of sorrow
Sick of the pain
Sick of hearing
Again and again
That there’s gonna be
peace on earth.
The overarching, big story of the Bible is a story of a loving, gracious God seeking to restore peace once again. Peace between us and Himself, and peace between us and other people. In fact the Bible uses the word ‘peace’ over 400 times.
The crux and culmination God’s plan to restore peace centres on Jesus Christ. This little baby born in a manger 2000 years ago – came to bring peace. He came to restore peace with God that we had lost. He came to reconcile people to each other, people who are divided and separated.
Jesus Christ is God’s answer to man’s search for peace. Peace within us, peace around us, and most significantly, peace with God. As He said to the disciples, He whispers to you today: “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)
Please keep praying this week to pray for Ivan Alcorn and Jane Quinn as they journey cancer through in this season. May they especially experience God’s peace and tangible presence at this time. (For more details see Tuesday’s devotion.)