Where's the Peace?

Where’s the Peace?

Is. 9:6 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 Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Luke 2:14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

The average views of Christianity seem to be right until we examine what the Bible says. For instance, this verse has been interpreted to mean Jesus stands for peace, for the brotherhood of men, for the peace and prosperity of nations. While true in part, it is an unbiblical view that causes people to determine the Bible is not true when they don’t see peace. After all, twenty-one centuries have passed since Jesus, the Prince of Peace, came and the angels proclaimed peace on earth, but where’s the peace?” If we examine the Bible, we will find there is a great deal that does not fit into that view. Christians must be able to share the truth of this angelic proclamation. Before we can do that, we must have the right interpretation.

We just read that the angels proclaimed peace “to men on whom his favor rests."

Does God’s favor rest on all men? Potentially, yes, but not all men will accept the source of His peace—The Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. Therefore, not all men have God’s peace nor His favor.

Matt 1:23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” —which means, “God with us.”

Jesus Christ is God, who became a man; therefore, He is called Immanuel, which means “God with us.” He reconciled us to the Father by shedding His Blood on the Cross. Consequently, any person can now become a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ and rebirth by His Spirit. This is accomplished by Immanuel, who is now the Holy Spirit, “God with us,” taking resident in us. Let me explain.

When a man comes to Jesus, repents, and is baptized, he is born into a spiritual kingdom and his whole outlook is altered. He is no longer of this world, although he remains in this world as Christ’s ambassador to witness for Jesus. The problems and issues of this world are not a Christian’s worry. We know the answer to the problems and issues, Jesus Christ. We are to stay focused on Him and share Jesus with others so they will know His peace and have God’s favor in the midst of this evil world.

Without Jesus, sin makes us enemies of God. Through the atonement of Christ on the Cross, our sins are forgiven. We become children of God after burial in baptism and being born again of the Spirit. God’s favor and peace rests upon His children, who are no longer His enemy. All mankind is invited into His family through Jesus Christ. That is the meaning of the angel’s proclamation. There is no other way to obtain peace or God’s favor apart from the Prince of Peace, whose arrival they announced. However, Jesus said,

Matthew 10:34-36  Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father,  a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

If Jesus is the Prince of Peace, why is He saying this? Where’s the peace in this passage?

Shouldn’t Jesus be saying, “I have come to bring peace on earth. I have come to comfort families. I have come to bridge the chasms of silence that separate fathers and sons. I have come to heal the wounds of regret that drive apart mothers and daughters.”

Perhaps that’s what many of us would like the passage to say. But it doesn’t. Jesus is talking specifically about the division that happens as a direct result of a decision to follow Him and no longer follow the ways of everyone else, including family.

It sure doesn’t sound like good news. Especially since Jesus doesn’t imply that division might occur as a result of him, but he emphatically states that division will occur because of him.

It is shocking to hear Jesus say, “I came not to bring peace, but a sword”. A sword is a weapon of war. However, Jesus’ sword is the Word of God that brings conviction for the purpose of putting sin to death in our lives.

The coming of Jesus Christ into a person’s life is not a peaceful thing; it is a disturbing thing, because Jesus causes the destruction of any peace that is not based on a personal relationship to Himself. Once a person understands what Jesus Christ demands, his peace of mind is upset, his morality is upset by conviction of sin. Thereafter, holiness is the only result that will bring that convicted person true peace.

Jesus Christ’s demand is that we be as holy as He is holy. That is disturbing to all of us. How can we meet His demand? If all Jesus Christ came to do was to put before us an ideal we cannot attain, we are happier not knowing it. But Jesus did not come just to teach ideals: He came to put within us His own disposition, the Holy Spirit, Immanuel, whereby we are changed from one degree of glory to another into His ideal. Jesus Christ has done something for us that we could not do for ourselves. He has given us His righteousness. This is His grace.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Salvation by the grace of God means we are delivered from Hell, and we are a new creation, born of the Holy Spirit. A characteristic of the Holy Spirit is peace. Therefore, the peace of God abides in us unless we grieve the Holy Spirit by failing to obey Him. We know we are walking in disobedience when the peace of God leaves us.

1 John 2:3-6 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.  The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

Could this be why we are asking, “Where’s the peace”? We know we experienced salvation by the grace of God, but are we failing to walk by the Spirit in our daily life?

The average Christian says—“Oh, yes, I am saved.” Unbelievers look at us and wonder. What are the characteristics in us that show we are saved and Jesus Christ lives in us? In what way are we different from unbelievers? Peace is one characteristic of the Holy Spirit that should make us different and appealing to unbelievers who are seeking peace. Do we have it, can they see it, or are we filled with anxiety, which is sin, like them?

Jesus says in his kingdom there is peace. He told us how to live peacefully with people:
you handle leadership, by serving; you handle offenders, by forgiving; you handle money, by sharing; you handle enemies, by loving; and you handle violence, by suffering. In fact, you have a new attitude toward everything, toward everybody, toward nature, toward the country in which you live, toward employees, toward employers, and toward everything.

In the Kingdom of God, you repent, not by feeling bad, but by thinking differently and doing differently. Repentance leads to forgiveness and peace with God, which mankind did not have until Jesus came.

To follow Jesus means we are picked up and turned right side-up. When that happens it is going to be painful at times, and people around us,—even our own families—are not going to understand. There’s going to be friction. There’s going to be division. Jesus is just telling the truth—there is going to be a cross to bear.

So if the decision to follow Christ inevitably leads to suffering and division, why follow? Why did the disciples leave everything behind and follow Jesus at the sound of his call? Why did the early Christians suffer persecution and death to follow Christ?

The reason: They found Someone worth the cost, and His rewards come from an intimate relationship with Him. It’s not easy to walk right side-up in an upside-down world. However, by the grace of God, we are invited and empowered to do it. Jesus is the way to experience peace in this world, which is no longer, our home.

So, did Jesus Christ bring peace to the earth? Yes, He did; but it is a peace that is characteristic of Himself, not the world. If He is in us, we will have His peace.

John 14:27 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.

The peace that Jesus gives is never determined by circumstances in this world. It is a peace based on a personal relationship that holds through every situation because He is with us. Immanuel, The Holy Spirit, is in us.

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

The decision to follow the Prince of Peace is not made with a hope of escape from trouble. We decide to follow because we recognize the identity of the One who calls.

John 6:68-69 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

There is no greater peace than intimacy with Jesus Christ. His peace is the deepest thing a human can experience. It is created when Jesus is born in us. It is a peace that passes all understanding.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He created a Kingdom of peace and all God’s children in His Kingdom enjoy God’s favor. This peace with God and with each other is held together by God’s love.

Are you part of God’s Kingdom? Are you experiencing God’s peace and favor? If not, receive it today by believing that Jesus is the Christ. Accept Him as your Savior and Lord. Confess and repent of your sin. Give Jesus your life through baptism, and receive a new life through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Let Christ be born in you today. You will never experience a merrier Christmas.