At Christmas time, we announce the coming of the Prince of Peace. Yet we look around at our world and peace appears to be the last thing that describes our situation. What does Christ’s peace look like in the midst of the tumult and chaos that we experience on a daily basis?
This is the first sermon in a Christmas series entitled “Christmas Lights” where we explore how God brings light in a dark world. This sermon addresses how peace overcomes chaos in our lives.
In Isaiah, we read how God will send a Messiah, one who would be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. This is a human child, who is also a mighty God, the one Matthew calls Emmanuel, which means God with us. The one who is fully human and fully God comes to offer peace to a world that has none.
Paul says in Colossians 1:19-20 that Jesus makes peace through the blood of the cross. The self-sacrificial love he displays brings peace to everything, thus redeeming all things into his plan and incorporating good and evil into a harmonious whole. The full revelation of peace will be known at the end of times, when we see how he takes up all circumstances and redeems them, working them together for good (Romans 8:28). And thus the suffering of the present time is not worth comparing to the glory that will come in the future (Romans 8:18). All will end well even though the circumstances in the present moment do not seem to point in that direction.
Yet now, before the end has fully come, we must ask: where is this peace? The realities of daily life seem to say that there is no peace. The same was true when Jesus was born. He entered into a time that was tremendously turbulent. The Prince of Peace is born into this tense, chaotic, and sometimes violent situation. People expected the Messiah to come and make all things right, assuming that he would get the Romans off their back and establish justice. Yet, Jesus did not come and change all of their circumstances. In fact, in some ways, he initially seems to make matters worse because his birth actually created more chaos for those involved. The Christmas story was actually full of turbulence and chaos.
When God comes into our fallen world, He doesn’t send forth escorts to clean up the world to make sure that this Prince of Peace gets the red carpet treatment. Jesus began his life the same way he ended his life: by diving head first into our sin, our violence and our chaos. Jesus came into our world as Prince of Peace not by creating an oasis of peace away from life’s chaos but by setting up shop in the heart of our chaos. He does not change things by decreeing or forcing peace, but changing all things from the inside through self-sacrificial love.
This means that we must learn to look for the Mighty God and the Prince of Peace in the midst of the chaos. God is Emmanuel, God with us, always in the depths of our troubled times. In the midst of the turbulence we can find peace. We read about this in two passages in John:
In John 14:27, Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” In John 16:32-33, Jesus tells his disciples, “The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have said this to you so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution, but take courage: I have conquered the world.”
From the words of Jesus regarding his peace, we can take three things. First, in this world we will have trials. We live in a cosmic war zone where we will face difficulties. We should not be surprised by this fact. Secondly, Jesus says that he gives his peace to us. This is the peace of God. One emotion that is never ascribed to God in the Bible is that of worry because God is at peace at all times. God knows how he will accomplish his plans and is confident that the future glory will be fully realized. Therefore, there is no reason for God to worry. This is the kind of unshakable peace that God offers us. Third, the kind of peace that God offers is not the kind of peace that the world gives, the kind that depends on circumstances. It is the kind of peace that depends on God, the kind that passes all understanding and will guard our hearts (Phil 4:6-8).
No matter what you are facing at this point in life, God is not surprised by it. He is present in the midst of your reality and offers you a kind of peace that does not make sense to the ways of the world. We can meet with God in the middle of it all, receive his gift of peace and watch him bring good out of chaotic circumstances.
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