And on earth peace …
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14). This is what the heavenly host proclaimed to the shepherds to announce Christ’s arrival. Christmas is a time when “peace on earth” is proclaimed on the TV, on Christmas cards and on the paper we use to wrap presents. But what is this peace that the heavenly host proclaimed? A friend recently defined peace as the “possession and realization of adequate resources”. What does it mean to be at peace? What are these “adequate resources”?
I think we all have an idea of what peace means to us. If you asked me to describe a peaceful scene, I would likely tell you about being in the woods in the snow, sunshine dappling through the branches, the stillness of the forest, the only sound the snow crunching beneath my feet. It sounds wonderful. What happens, though, if I’m in that forest, but I’ve had a terrible day, my heart is aching and my mind is not at rest? Well, all the still forests in the world couldn’t bring me peace. For you see, peace is a restful heart. Peace comes from God and like the other fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23-24), it comes as Christ comes into our life. Just as the angels foretold of His coming, as He comes into each of our hearts, He brings us His peace. As Christ said when He was departing from His disciples: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
Why then are not all Christians at peace? Well, peace, like many qualities of our relationship with Christ, come with the knowledge of him. “Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace, thereby shall good come unto thee. Receive, I pray thee, the law from His mouth, and lay up his words in thine heart” (Job 22:21-22). As Eliaphaz said to Job, peace comes with the knowledge of Him and the knowledge of Him and His purposes which come through the study of His Word and the incorporation of it into our lives. When we keep Christ and His word foremost in our minds, we can be at peace. Isaiah 26:3 says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” When we are in right relationship with Christ, have kept His commandments and have nothing between ourselves and God, we can be at peace. Isaiah 48:18 says, “O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! Then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.”
If peace is the “possession and realization of adequate resources”, how do we “realize” that we “possess” these “resources‘? Well, like anything else with God, we are to ask. Philippians 4:6-7 commands, “Be careful for nothing: but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” We “realize” that we have God in our lives when we talk to Him – all He asks is that we spend time with Him. Lastly, look at John 16:3: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” What are those “resources” my friend was talking about? They are the ultimate resources: the knowledge that we are saved; the knowledge that we have a God who is watching our every move; the knowledge that we have a God who loves us more than anything and of whom we are the apple of His eye; the knowledge that “all things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28); and the knowledge that we are not alone in this world. If these are the thoughts that are foremost in our minds, the “filter” by which we look at the world and the troubles it brings, then as John says, in spite of tribulation, we can be of good cheer, at peace, because our God has overcome the world.