Who doesn’t long for peace on earth?
The angelic announcement on the night Jesus was born was a declaration that the birth of the Messiah was connected to peace on earth. Of course, 700 years before Jesus was born, God declared through the prophet Isaiah that child who would be born, the Son who would be given would be the Sar Shalom – the Prince of Peace.
So what happened? Where is the peace that the angels promised?
It’s here. For all who live today under the reign of the Prince of Peace, we can live with His peace ruling in our hearts. Romans 5 tells us that because of what Jesus has done for us, we can have peace with God. And He is our peace. As brothers and sisters in Christ, the dividing wall of hostility between us has been torn down. We are one in the Spirit.
But there is an already and a not yet when it comes to the peace Christ brings. What we have today – peace with God, peace in our hearts and unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ – is a foretaste of the eternal and universal peace that will be ours when Jesus reigns in the new heaven and the new earth.
For now, Jesus tells us, we’ll have to settle for incomplete peace. In fact, in Luke 12 he says that in His incarnation, He did not come to bring peace. Before He brings peace, He brings division.
Jesus tells us we should not be surprised when our love for Christ and our allegiance to Him divides us from those who are not our allies. Those who are citizens of a different kingdom. Those whose allegiance is to a different prince – the one the Bible calls the prince of the power of the air.
It’s possible that for some of you, the days ahead will be days when this division will manifest itself. You may be spending time with friends or family members who are not your spiritual allies. With that in mind, let me offer some suggestions about what you can do to make this a season of peace.
Here are some ideas about how you can minimize division that may exist without compromising your faith in the process.
1. Pray now. Pray for your friends or family members. Pray that God might soften their hearts to hear and respond to the good news. And if the opportunity presents itself for you to talk about a specific way God has been working in your own life this year, by all means, take it!
2. Pray for yourself that you will represent Christ well when you’re together. Family members know how to push our buttons better than anyone. Be prayed up before you come together. Ask God to empower you to walk by the Spirit and to manifest the fruit of the Spirit.
3. Make sure that if division arises between you and a family member that the cause of any offense is the gospel, not you. Don’t let arrogance or insensitivity or a lack of love or kindness on your part be the cause of any division.
4. Follow Romans 12:18. “If possible, as far as it depends of you, be at peace with all men.” That means that if anyone is going to suffer or be put out or defer to others, it should be you.
5. Demonstrate love more often than talk about what you believe. Make that on about a 50 – 1 ratio.
6. Be on guard against hypocrisy. And if you’ve been a hypocrite, fess up and ask for forgiveness.
7. Guard your heart and your speech against self-righteousness.
8. When spiritual issues come up in conversation, follow the counsel of 2 Tim 2:23- 26. “Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”
9. Be humble. There is a lot you can learn from your family members or friends – even your friends and family members who don’t know Him.
10. If God gives you an opportunity to talk about your faith, tell your story – honestly, warts and all. Let people know about the messiness of your life.
Keep in mind that for many of our brothers and sisters in the world, following Christ means more than a strained relationship with family members. It can mean being cut off or facing death.
The coming of Jesus into our world at Christmas brings for us the first fruits of the peace that we will one day know in fullness. For now, we can rejoice in the peace that is ours – peace with God, peace in our souls, and bond of peace that is to exist among believers.
One day, when all things are made new, these first fruits will give way to an abundance of peace, a peace that will not end. In this Advent season, we remember and rejoice in the incarnation of God in Christ. And we fix our eyes on the day when He will come again and will reign over all creation as the Prince of Peace.
There is no better way for us to begin our celebration of Christmas than to gather together for our annual Candlelight and Carols service. It’s a one-hour service that begins at 5:00 pm on Friday evening. I hope you’ll invite friends or neighbors or co-workers to join you. There is no easier invitation that to a Christmas Eve service at church.
Heads up. No newsletter next week. The next time you’ll hear from me via email will be in 2022! Here’s wishing you joy and peace as we prayerfully welcome in a new year. May God bring a fresh work of His Spirit in our church and in our nation in the year ahead.
FIRST TUESDAY MEN’S GATHERING – 1.04.22
Speaking of the New Year… On Tuesday night, January 4, our First Tuesday Men’s Meeting will take place. We’ll be joined by author and seminary professor Donald Whitney to talk about how we can cultivate a spiritual workout plan in the new year. Dr. Whitney has written a classic book on the subject of Spiritual Disciplines. You can find out more about his book and get a head start on our study by following links in the syllabus, found here.
read through the bible 2022
And with the New Year in view, it’s time to start thinking about cultivating a regular habit of time in God’s Word. Over the years, many Christians have benefitted from following this Bible reading program developed years ago by Scottish Pastor Robert Murray M’Cheyne. And if you’re looking for a daily devotional to help you “set your mind on things above” (Col. 3:2) each day, let me recommend to you the new daily devotional from Alistair Begg. It’s called Truth for Life. Find out more and order it here.
The central message of the Bible is the person and work of Jesus. What you believe about who Jesus is and what Jesus has done are the two most important questions you will answer in this life. As we continue to reflect on the birth of Jesus this Sunday, we’ll look at what the Apostle Paul tells us in Colossians 1 about who Jesus is and why He came.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!