O, how we long for Peace!
“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.” (Luke 2:13-14)
The year is drawing to its end, and what a story of conflict it has been!
Brexit in the UK, the Trump vs Democrats saga in the US, Syria, months of clashes in Hong Kong, Extinction Rebellion protests in many countries including Australia.
And this is just the tip of the conflict iceberg!
Add to that tensions between nations, all kinds of violence in our communities, and disruption, anger and fear in countless families and households. Leaving a longing for peace quietly throbbing in the hearts of millions, if not billions, in our world today.
And it seems so far away!
Jesus, the bringer of hope for peace with God
Yet at the birth of Jesus Christ the angels promised ‘peace to those on whom his favour rests’.
In the Old Testament, the idea of peace is captured in the Hebrew word ‘shalom’. ‘Shalom’ is more than the absence of conflict. It is a richly positive word that means the flourishing of individuals, of families, of groups, of communities, of nations. The absence of conflict is one important aspect of this, but it’s the positive harmony and ‘absolute best’ for people and their relationships that’s on view.
We know from the Bible that at the foundation of shalom for us is a restored relationship of peace with God himself, who is the Giver of all good things. That is what the Lord Jesus especially accomplished for us on the cross, when he endured God’s wrath on our behalf and satisfied it, reconciling our broken relationship with God and putting us ‘in the right’ with God (he ‘justified’ us).
The person who trusts Jesus to justify them before God is the person ‘on whom [God’s] favour rests,’ as the angels sang (as we saw above). So the Bible says:
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1).
This peace with God is full and generous and very, very good. There is no darkness in it! It transforms a person’s heart.
Jesus, the bringer of hope for peace with others
And yet God’s design is that our peace with him – which is the centre of everything – might echo through all our relationships with others, especially within the community of his people. Because of God’s mercies to us, the Bible says:
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Rom. 12:18)
And, to the body of believers:
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:1-3)
These words teach us that at the heart of the truly peacemaking person is a desire to live worthily of Christ who saved them. It’s a commitment to deep humility and gentleness with other people, especially those who are difficult, to be patient, and to bear with the failings of others. Finally, the peacemaker has the vision of, and exerts supreme effort in, keeping unity among God’s people.
None of this is easy! This side of heaven we’re still fallen people! However, the biblical principles we learn in PeaceWise help us enormously!
Jesus, the bringer of hope for peace even at Christmas
So as we come to Christmas – which can often be a time of tensions and stress – we can remember afresh the amazing love God has shown us and approach it as a glorious opportunity to show others the difference the peace of God makes to how we treat others.
We can put into practise the following simple framework in all things, and especially when in conflict:
- GOD: glorify God by choosing what would best honour and please him – what would be worthy of him who saved us;
- ME: be a person of true humility by making the log in our own eye our primary heart-focus and issue for repentance;
- YOU: deal humbly and gently with others and their faults – which Jesus says are only specks compared with our own logs; and
- US: aim to reconcile damaged relationships by forgiving those who had offended us and seek to work co-operatively with them and live out an authentic, mutually loving and beneficial relationship.
All of us at PeaceWise pray that this Christmas will be a time when you see afresh the great Peace God has brought to you through his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who came into this world with humility, gentleness and commitment.
May you be an agent of God’s peace and an ambassador of reconciliation bringing blessing as you move among your family, friends and work colleagues.
To learn the principles and skills of biblical peacemaking which you can apply for all of your life, book in now for 2020 PeaceWise training and get great early bird specials at the same time! Click here to book now!
This article is by David Coy. David is married to Noreen, and they have four married daughters and three grandchildren. He trained and has worked as an Anglican minister. David connected with PeaceWise training in 2011 and is now working in biblical peacemaking through Turning Point Ministry Services.