Peace on Earth
Monday, November 29, 2010

 

As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, [Jesus] wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had known this day what would bring you peace.”  (Luke 19:41-42)

 

                Perhaps the greatest message of Christmas is “peace on earth.”  The angels made the announcement that first Christmas night when they sang the arrival of Emmanuel – God with us.  As we look around this Christmas, over 2000 years later, we wonder.  With the war in Afghanistan, lingering bloodshed in Iraq, the threats of North Korea, and yes, even the tribulations of God’s people in Jerusalem, we wonder where is the peace of the Christmas message?  Today, as we approach the Christmas season, I want to begin a series of writings on this peace that was promised, and why we still find ourselves at war  -- at war in our families, at war in our churches, at war in our government, at war in the world, and maybe most significant of all, at war in our souls.

 

                First of all, we must know that the shalom of Scripture, the peace of which the angels spoke, is not possible without God.  For you see, this kind of peace comes only with a radical change of the human heart.  We will always be at war as long as our hearts are hardened by the teachings of the world.  War (either external or internal) is the natural outcome of trying to live without Christ.  Jesus stood over Jerusalem and cried (and I suspect those were agonizing tears in light of the cross), “if only you had known.”  He knew He was about to be rejected, and by rejecting Him, they were about to reject the only One who could bring them peace.  Only Jesus is capable of making a radical change of heart.

 

                So as we look at peace, let’s first examine false peace.  Jeremiah cried out to the priests, “You say ‘peace, peace’ when there is no peace.”  That is the false peace of humanity.  It is often said that human peace treaties are signed to give the warring parties time to reload.  And that is true, because treaties of governments do nothing to address the issues which bring about war in the first place.  It is not boundary disputes which cause war – it is hard hearts.  It is not aggression based on greed which cause wars – it is hard hearts.  It is not politics which cause war – it is hard hearts.  It is not ideological differences which cause wars – it is hard hearts.  As Jeremiah said, the pundits go around and proclaim peace, but as long as hearts are hard toward God and to one another – there will be war.

 

                Jesus places a high value on peace.  In His initial sermon He says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”  And Jesus is not here talking about diplomats who work to get treaties signed.  He is not talking about arbitrators who try to bring reconciliation between warring parties.  Jesus is speaking here of men and women, whose hearts are right before God (remember this beatitude is preceded by “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”).  Right hearts are essential to peacemaking.  Peacemaking draws us to a nearness of the true Son of God.  He came to give peace and did so with His life.  We are to think no less of peace.  It is to be achieved in our own lives and by those we touch as a very high priority.  It becomes the natural outflow of the purity of our hearts.

 

                Paul said, “As far as it is up to you, live at peace with everyone.”  That is our dictate.  We, as Christ’s followers, must never be the cause of dissension.  That means above all else, we must have our own hearts right before God.  When we find ourselves wanting to speak out against other religions, we must hear the words, “As far as it is up to you, live at peace with everyone.”  Whenever, winning an argument is more important than preserving peace, we must hear the words, “As far as it is up to you, live at peace with everyone.”  Whenever we feel persecuted, abused, or rejected, we must hear the words, “As far as it is up to you, live at peace with everyone.”  This is not easy, not on a global scale nor on an individual scale.  But it is impossible without hearts that are shaped by Christ.  Peace will not come about – not ever, not globally, not in families, not in churches, not in politics, and not in our souls, until our hearts are shaped by Christ.

                 So this first in a series of Christmas messages is all about coming to terms with peace – the peace that will stop wars, the peace that surpasses all understanding, and the peace that makes us sons of God.  It is the peace that comes from a radical change of heart.   And while we, as individuals, are totally incapable of making peace in Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea, or Jerusalem, we do have the capacity to allow Jesus to soften our own hearts.  So today, ask Jesus to come into your life and begin to radically change your heart.  I did.

Kingdom Road Ministries
PO Box 503
10 South Main, Suite 201
Victor, ID 83455
903-262-5088
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