Christmas is probably the most celebrated holiday of the year. Billions of people set aside normal routines. For an entire month, our lives are transformed into decorating, parties, shopping, school programs, special services and more. It’s interesting that the unassuming birth of one child transforms our lives like this.
But amidst all of this, we see events like the one in San Bernardino, California, that are cold reminders that the world we live in is not without conflict.
We typically define peace as the state of being absent of conflict or hostility, and yet since the beginning of history, the world has been at “peace” less than 8 percent of the time. Of the 3,500 years of recorded history, only 286 years have seen peace. Moreover, some 8,000 peace treaties were made and broken. There have been more than 14,000 wars, large and small, in which roughly 3.6 billion people were killed. Man seems seeks peace through conflict.
In describing Jesus, the prophet Isaiah said, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed.”
There’s that parity again — that Jesus had to endure much conflict and pain so that we could be healed.
Isaiah also said he would be the “Prince of Peace,” meaning he is the one who has the right to reign and who will usher in peace.
That does not mean that he has ushered in peace at his first coming. As a matter of fact, in Luke 12:51, he says, “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on Earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.”
He’s saying, “I didn’t come to make life convenient, and I didn’t come with the goal of creating a conflict-free existence for you.” If that had been his goal, then he would have achieved it, and there would be no conflict in our lives.
If we consider John 16:33, he said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
We were never guaranteed that we will have everything we want, nor face unwanted experiences. But what we are guaranteed as believers is that even in the midst of conflict, we can still have peace. Our problem is that we confuse world and personal peace with God’s peace. But as Christians, God’s peace is our true peace.
The night Jesus was born, the angels declared, “Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
The heavens and the Earth came into alignment, and for that moment, when divinity entered the natural realm, I believe there was world peace. When the angels spoke “peace on Earth,” all chaos and conflict stopped, and the Earth was at peace because it was spoken from the heavenlies.
I want you to be encouraged during this Christmas season that regardless of what’s happening in the world, or even in your world, his peace can remain your peace.
Cowart is the senior pastor of Live Oak Church and a member of the United Ministerial Alliance.