Wednesday, 7 January 2015
Breaking the Silence: Peace
This Christmas season you may be hungry for God to break his silence. The great good news is: He has, in the coming of Jesus. Jesus is God’s word of peace.
What an incredible gift! God not only sent his Son to save us, he sent his Son to speak to us. Every word you and I long to hear, comes to us through Jesus, the Word of God.
I wonder why this great news sometimes falls on deaf ears. Are you like me? Do you toss aside God’s gifts because they don’t meet your expectations? Do you shrug at these words because they don’t deliver what you’d hoped?
Many of us struggle to hear God’s voice. We cry out for answers to our prayers and feel as if heaven is silent. Other people seem confident, saying things like, “The Lord told me this” or “God said that to me the other day.” We wish the same thing had happened to us and wonder if God doesn’t like us. Or if we’ve done something wrong.
I think the answer lies elsewhere. It’s because we’re looking for a spiritual experience, an inner voice from God. But that’s not the way God promised to speak to us. He spoke through his prophets and now he has spoken through his Son. The words are recorded in nouns and verbs on the pages of our Bible. God’s great gift to us–through the various human authors –is his Scriptures, both the Old and New Testament.
This is where we will hear the voice of God speak about the Son of God through the Spirit of God.
A Word of Peace
One of the words we most want to hear at Christmas is “peace.” We hope the season, or at least the day, will be a time of laying down arms for our global and personal conflicts. Can’t we just set aside differences for one day? So we try to arrange for harmony between the children, choosing gifts that they won’t fight about. We put some diplomatic effort into planning family gatherings, seating Aunt Phyllis at the other end of the table from Father dear. Hiding the bottle that turns Uncle Barny from a clown into a monster. But it doesn’t work. The peace we broker is fragile, falling apart before the wrapping paper is cleaned up and dessert is served.
The good news is that God speaks peace to us at Christmas. Jesus is God’s word of peace. Angels announced it,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:14
This is not just a 24 hour cease fire, either, this is peace that will come in and stay. Consider these three words of peace:
- “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27
- “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility…” Ephesians 2:12
- “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1
Precious words. True words. Which one resonates the most with you today?
I love the first one. My heart is often troubled, my thoughts full of anxieties. Those words of Jesus to his disciples in the upper room roll across my soul like an instant tranquilizer. I find my heart relaxes and my breath flows more easily.
Subjective Versus Objective
Those words of Jesus are certainly true. But the truth of them is clearest in the last verse, the one from Romans. My emotional response to the first verse will be greater or less as I understand the truth expressed in the last one.
Objectively speaking, Jesus is God’s word of peace to me because of his perfect life and sacrificial death on my behalf. The first order of peace I need is peace between God and me. Having God as my enemy does not make for peace, especially when I’m the one who started the conflict. I need more than a flimsy cease-fire or a fragile truce with him. I need a complete cessation of all hostility and a wide-armed embrace.
That’s what Jesus’ saving work accomplished. In Christ God has turned me from his enemy to his friend. And by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit I have become his friend from the inside out.
This is the objective peace which guarantees the other, more subjective one. No matter what my circumstances or the internal turmoil of my soul, if I have peace with God, I know I have his full attention and help. Every time Jesus said, “Peace to you,” he was basing it on that.
What about the middle verse? It also has an objective and subjective side. It tells me that objective peace with God is dynamically related to experiential peace with others. As I understand and believe the truth of the first, it will have a direct positive effect on my experience of the second.
Peace–all sorts of peace–is the gift of God through Jesus Christ to me and you and all who believe in him.