Give peace a chance. ~J.Lennon, philosopher and maybe a singer (?)
Peace is a funny thing.
It’s talked of in many ways by the wise of this world. In the midst of this holiday season, it is revered as if it is something ethereal, something Godly, unattainable.
Headlines scream daily of the un-peace that pervades this world. The scary, evil, hostile world. Even as I go from draft to final of this post, Paris was attacked, suicide bombers take theirs and many other lives in Baghdad and Beirut.
Yet, as Christians, we are told not to fear. Yet, we often do. How could we not?
- Worldly wisdom says we should be worried.
- Worldly wisdom says we should be consumed with fear and foreboding.
- Headlines say that bad things are everywhere.
- The worldly wise – the influential, the learned, the ‘important’ – give us this worldview of fear and anguish and unrest.
In the worldly context, defining peace seems to mean that everyone gets along, no one shoots or beheads anyone else or blows up anyone’s city, or is mean and nasty from the heights of power.
But if worldly wisdom is foolishness and futile to God (1 Corinthians 2), does that definition ring true? Is that the ‘peace to everyone’ that the angels sang to the shepherds? (Luke 2)
The apostle Paul said he entered the town of Corinth with trembling, fear and weakness. He was scared in this town, a buzzing beehive of questionable morals. After experiencing a plethora of physical persecution for his faith, he had every right to wonder if there was a beat down on the way.
His humanness was scared. But yet, he did it.
Paul had that peace that passes understanding. He was there in full view, demonstrating that faith rests on God, not on our own view of the world. Not on what our eyes and ears can absorb. But on what God said.
Paul was at peace, knowing that his faith rested on God’s power, not on his own worldly wisdom.
If we put our peace in the hands of the world we will always and forever be battling to find it, torturing ourselves over its lack.
But the peace that God talks about – the kind that the angels were singing about – is beyond our worldly wisdom to understand. It goes way beyond what we can get our heads around.
And that’s the rub.
We don’t want what we cannot understand. We keep at arms’ length what we have nothing to do with creating, with what we can take absolutely no credit for.
Yet, when we really absorb its wonder, the peace of God can change our life and everyone around us.
Knowing God’s peace can change our view of the world and of the Christmas holiday. When we see the world through the eyes of God, we stop caring that it’s total foolishness to the world.
Peace that passes all understanding. The kind that guards your heart and your mind. (Philippians 4.7) Peace that is so real, so present, so palpable, that we want to bottle it up and keep it near in case we let it slip away. When you get it, you never want to let it go.
God’s Peace. It is the absolute in escapist perfection. This kind of peace is not a feeling or even a written treatise. It is so much deeper, so much truer and purer and available.
And as believers we have this. We just need to accept it.
Jesus was clear about this. It was important enough that he told his disciples about it just before he was arrested. He gave us something that the world was incapable of giving us. ‘Peace I give to you, not as the world gives it.’ (John 14)
As I watch the twinkling white lights and smell the evergreen boughs bulging with bangles and baubles of reflections, I know I take this too often for granted.
But for me, it is no longer acceptable to just say the words. It’s too simple to buy a box of Christmas cards and wish everyone Peace with an embossed dove and a branch of holly in its beak.
It’s too easy to pass by the wonder of Peace as just another piece of the consumerist holiday.
I invite all of us to pause and absorb what God did by giving us this splendid Christmas idea. He gave us freedom from angst and worry and fear. He gave us freedom from being drowned in the headlines and horror of this world’s daily dose of doom.
With God’s Peace comes an eternal worldview that exceeds anything that worldly wisdom can possibly explain away.
Served up in a small cradle in a dirty stable in the middle of nowhere, God gave us Peace in our hearts. Each one of us. It is ours.
A heart at peace gives life to the body. ~Proverbs 14.30