SPOILER ALERT: This is part of the Christmas Eve Sermon. If you don’t want to spoil the sermon, click here for another devotion.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:7
In the old days – like the 1970s – you could legitimately feel sorry for the mailman. It was the era of Christmas cards. My childhood house, for example, seemed to get hundreds. And it seemed like the most common theme was “Peace on Earth.”
Peace was a big issue in the seventies. The second “war to end all wars” still rattled most adult’s consciences. Then came Korea. Then the largely unpopular Vietnam War. It all seemed senseless. A younger generation was horrified. Peace signs seemed to decorate the sides of their every VW microbus. Every beauty pageant contestant’s ubiquitous wish was for peace. Therefore, “Peace on Earth” – a legitimate theme of Christmas – was a prominent theme of the Christmas cards of my youth.
There were lots of doves and angels and nature scenes and children holding hands. But I wondered … “If Jesus came as the Prince of Peace (see Isaiah 9), why didn’t we have more peace?”
Do you ever wonder that?
The second candle in Advent represents PEACE. And where is the peace?
I have two answers. First, we’re in the midst of a long battle for permanent peace. As long as there’s sin on this world, there will be violence, abuse, and power struggles. It’s tragic when that happens in families. It’s horrific when that happens between nations – often millions left dead. We talked yesterday about the first candle – the candle of HOPE. We long for a day when mourning and crying and pain will be no more (see Revelation 21). We hope for a day when sin will cease, death will die, and battle gear will no longer be issued (Isa 9:5, the verse before we’re told that unto us a child is born whose named shall be called Prince of Peace.)
Don’t you long for that? So why isn’t it here? Because Christmas was D-Day. In World War II the forces of evil (Hitler) raged for five years. The war was essentially won when the Allied forces grabbed a toe-hold in Normandy (D-Day). Nevertheless, it would take a bloody year for the Nazis to be completely beaten back. The “war against sin and Satan” was won with Christmas and cross. They were D-Day. Nevertheless, we are still in a bloody war. Until Christ comes again, there will be sin and sadness. Evil is fighting its last gasps against us in an already lost war.
But if the war is already won, why doesn’t Christ come quicker to establish his eternal rule of peace? As it says in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” “I’m waiting for just one more … and another more … and then I’ll come,” is Christ’s message. That’s his love. He wants no one to perish … eternally. But in the meantime there seems to be no peace.
So why do we call him the Prince of Peace? Well, peace only comes where the light of Christ’s kingdom touches. And that happens first in individual human hearts. And our verse for today reflects this. How do we find “the peace of God which surpasses all understanding”? By yielding to Christ’s control (and blessing) in our lives. In a famous short passage in Philippians 4, we are invited to look for things “rejoice” over. And there is much. We are called to be “gentle” [gracious, unselfish, merciful, tolerant, and patient]. We are called to focus on God “prayerfully.” We are called to learn to trust, rather than be continually consumed by “anxiousness.” We are called to persistently look at life through the lens of “thanksgiving.” And that’s when “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
And if more of us would just live that way, we’d have more pockets of peace on earth … as we await the permanent peace of the New Heaven and the New Earth.
In Christ’s Love,
a guy who wishes
the world would seek
peace with Christ
and discover more
Peace on earth