Why Do We Say 'Peace Has Come'?
At Christmas time, we sing carols that say peace has come; you hear Christians talking about Jesus as the Prince of Peace; and you've probably received at least one Christmas card that says there is peace on earth.
And yet, when the news comes on television, or you look at your Facebook feed, it is filled with terrible news of men, women and children being killed right now in places like Aleppo in Syria, like Mosul in Iraq, and even countries like France and Germany where this year we have seen trucks driven into crowds of people, killing many instantly. What do you mean 'Peace has come'? Because the world doesn't seem very peaceful, does it.
It's very closely connected with the question I often get asked, "if God exists and He is good, then why doesn't he stop all these bad things from happening?" When people fail to understand this, they also struggle to believe.
When you don't have an explanation for this question, Christmas is simple relegated to being nothing more than a quaint fairy story that sounds nice, but bears no resemblance to the realities of life. But we get a holiday, we eat ham, you gets presents, and so we just ignore the intellectual discrepencies and enjoy ourselves, before having to face going back to work next week or next year.
What do you mean, 'Peace has come'?
When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. And since we have been made right in God's sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God's condemnation. Romans 5: 6 & 9
These two verses from Romans 5 encapsulate the Gospel rather nicely. The Bible says that because of our sin we are enemies of God, and we also fight each other. That's why there is fighting in places like Aleppo; that's why husbands and wives fight; that's why we have disputes with one another. Our selfishness separates us from each other, and it has separated us from God. So there is no peace - not because of God, but because of us.
God declared that the consequences of this selfish, sinful behaviour would be death - that's what we deserve - God's condemnation. But in His grace, God planned to do something amazing. God became human. God came to earth as a human being... a little baby, born in a stable in Bethlehem just over 2,000 years ago. This little baby would grow up to live a perfect, self-less, sin-less life, and then, even though He didn't deserve to die, he allowed Himself to be killed to pay the penalty for our sin.
As a result, we can be saved from God's condemnation by believing in Jesus - that His death atoned for your sin - and now you can be made right in God's sight and have eternal life.
Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Romans 5: 1
You see, this is why we sing about 'peace on earth' at Christmas. Through faith in Jesus, we can have peace with God. No more being separate from God. No more being under God's condemnation for our sins. No more being His enemy. No more heading for eternal death in hell, but instead, heading for eternal life in Heaven. We have peace with God because of what Jesus has done for us.
Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory. Romans 5: 2
The coming of God in the flesh is a game changer. Yes, the world is broken. Yes, there is fighting. But there is now a God-given answer to our fighting. When we realise the privilege of being forgiven by God and accepted by Him, it frees us to forgive and accept those who offend and hurt us.
Not only does the life, death and resurrection of Jesus mean we can have peace with God, it also means we can have peace with each other. We can offer and receive grace, because that's how we've been treated by God.
One day, God will come again. Jesus will descend not to save, but to judge the world for all the fighting and sin. He will bring justice on all evil. And, He will bring salvation to all who have put their faith Him.
I pray this Christmas that you have that faith - that you have peace with God, and that you are bringing the grace and peace of God into this sad and broken world.
God is good. He has come. And we can have peace.
Greg Gardiner is the Lead Pastor of Disciples Church Springfield. He and his wife Fiona have six children and (currently) six grand-children, and they lead one of our Missional Community Groups.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright (c) 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.