Let's turn to a very familiar passage for this time of year. In Luke 2:10-14 (NKJV), we read:
"Then the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 'Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!'"
You can almost hear Linus reciting these verses to Charlie Brown in the annual TV favorite, "A Charlie Brown Christmas." During this season, so many words become overused or commonplace. So much so, they can lose their value. One of those overused words that I would like to focus on is peace!
If "love" is the most misused or misapplied word in our language today, then "peace" has to be a close second. Before going into the peace that the baby in the manger came to give us, let's look at some deep seated misperceptions about peace.
Peace is NOT the absence of war (like darkness is the absence of light). Similarly, peace is NOT avoiding conflict by staying away from hot topic issues. Also, peace is NOT the quieting sounds of a mountain stream or the soothing feeling of a hot bubble bath. Our municipalities have laws against disturbing the peace. Nations have talked for centuries about when they will finally have peace or how it can be achieved and maintained. Yet, true lasting peace remains elusive. Why? Why is peace so hard to find?
For the most part, man's struggle to find peace is tied to where we have looked for it. Some try to find peace in their relationships. Others try to find peace in living in the right neighborhood. Some try to find peace in a good job or a large enough bank account. At this time of year, many try to find peace in cozy family gatherings or in everything being "just right." To be honest, all of these things can leave you empty and far away from true peace.
We need to realize that the peace announced in the passage is not from an external source. It is not based on a set of circumstances properly aligning for you. This announcement of "peace on Earth" is given immediately after the shepherds are told to go find the baby in the manger, and THAT is where peace can be found. Mankind has no peace 'on the outside' because we have no peace 'on the inside.' And this is because we are not at peace with God. Peace with our Loving Savior is the joy that the angels came to proclaim. This is the "good news" that all of heaven rejoiced over.
We were God's enemies. Our sinful nature created a gap between us and the Lord. Our desires to walk our own way placed us at odds with Him. And yet, while we were in this state, God extends the hand of peace in His Son! In Jesus, real peace becomes possible. In Him, we can know an inner calm that isn't subject to the outside world. Will things get to us from time to time? Sure they will. But in those times, the anchor that is our peace (Jesus) can help us regain our focus. And He not only gives us peace within, but His gift of inner peace will bless and foster peace in our relationships as well. Only then can we fulfill the promise in Matthew 5:9 of being "peacemakers." But you can't "make" peace (an external activity) if you don't "have" peace (an internal reality)!
Especially during this Christmas season, the bottom line is that you will not find peace at the mall. You can't pick it up at the supermarket. And you won't find it online. We can only find it in a living relationship the Savior a baby that grew to become our sacrifice and lives today as our risen King! Embrace Jesus this Christmas. Keep Him at the forefront of all you do and "peace on Earth" will be your normal state all year round!
Hiram Claudio is a minister and bible teacher who has traveled to 8 nations spreading the Good News of faith in Christ and victory through His name. He is married (for 29 years). He and his wife live in New York and have two sons.