Sometimes we just don’t see it – this peace God promised. It seems like it just isn’t happening, or worse, maybe he forgot. This time of year especially, we crave the peace the angels proclaimed, and we hope and pray God hasn’t forgotten how much we need that peace. If we’re truly honest we have to admit we know God isn’t the one who forgot about his peace. We’re the ones who forgot. What’s worse, we didn’t just forget about true peace, we traded it in a long time ago for a mess of cheap substitutes.
We traded peace with God and a perfect world in the Garden for a measly piece of fruit and an empty promise that we could know more than Almighty God. Cain traded it for jealousy and pride and took life the Father created into his own hands – and now we’re not our brothers’ keepers.
We shoved peace and God’s presence so far from us that the Creator of the world sent a flood to destroy all but eight of his beloved human creation, but it didn’t take us long to forget again.
Abraham and Sarah taking childbearing matters into their own hands and creating two nations who would forever be at war with each other;
Moses and the Israelites (oh, the Israelites…)
We forgot Who is in control. We pushed God away time and time and time again.
Yet, He kept promising, pursuing and loving us. Yes, the Righteous Judge also punished and dished out consequences. But our loving Father didn’t forget or abandon us to stay in our sin forever. The Comforter sent men to tell us of the virgin who would mother the Son of the Most High. To tell us of the Merciful arms open and ready for us. To tell us of the Prince of Peace. And when the time had fully come, God sent his Son to the City of David that was called Bethlehem. Angels announced to dirty tired shepherds that there would be peace on earth.
The Light came into the darkness, but the darkness did not understand it. There still wasn’t peace – not like what we expected anyway. Jesus was born into a world where the Romans oppressed and king Herod was so jealous and temperamental he ordered all baby boys under two years old to be murdered, hoping the newborn King of the Jews would be numbered among the dead. Peace? The world into which God became man was anything but peaceful, silent and calm.
And now here we are, two thousand years later… and we’re still the people walking in darkness who need the Great Light. We’re still looking for peace, but the wrong kind of peace.
There’s so much grief and hurt in our world…
In the mass shootings;
Homelessness and poverty;
Iraq and Syria;
9-11 and ISIS;
Marriage and family problems;
Bad church leaders;
It’s so easy to forget God knows what’s happening and is still in control. We see a world in pain and sin – that we caused with that bite of fruit so long ago – and we so desperately want a world in peace. We crave peace with other humans. We dream of peace for our children and grandchildren. But we’ve forgotten where peace ultimately resides. We’ve pushed God and his peace out of our lives time and time and time again. And then we have the nerve to wonder where God is and why he allows these things to happen.
We need our Father’s forgiveness and grace now more than ever.
The peace we search for and long for is not the same peace announced by angels that first Christmas. Ultimately, the worldly peace we want so badly isn’t the peace we need. That peace is true peace with the Lord. It’s the peace of being back in a right relationship with him. We won’t, we can’t, know peace in our world unless we know peace with our God.
He Himself – the Baby we celebrate this season – is our Peace. Our Prince of Peace. Our heavenly Peace.
It seems that this Christmas we need extra reminders of true peace. God, help us to understand that peace in this world is impossible apart from peace with You. Help us to turn from our sin and fear and draw us back to Yourself. Help us know that even in our sin You still love us with an everlasting love. Show us day in and day out, no matter what this world brings, that You will never leave us or forsake us. Put Your peace in our hearts – live in us – be born in us today.