Sunday, December 19, 2010

Peace on Earth, Goodwill . . .

I decided to meditate upon peace today. It seemed like an appropriate focus as we approach Christmas. When the angels announced the birth of Jesus they proclaimed, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” - Luke 2:14 (NLT). I wondered what peace looks like in this world about two thousand years later. I thought about several things Jesus said about peace. He said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." - John 14:27 (NIV). He also said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." - John 16:33 (NIV).

These statements were spoken before His death and resurrection. Then I remembered these words spoken at one of His appearances to the disciples after His triumphant resurrection.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"
After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."
- John 20:19-21 (NIV).
I have learned that it is important to watch for "book-end statements." Places where Jesus says something, something happens, and then He says it again. The statements bookend the events and are important teachings connected to the events. Here these teachings about peace bookend Jesus' arrest, unjust trial, flogging, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus lived through these horrific events with peace. Now He offers peace to His followers and all followers who come after these. In John chapter 20 these words of peace bookend something else as well. Jesus shows the disciples the scars He has received in carrying out the will of His Father, God. Then, He calls His disciples, and all disciples who will follow after Him, to a mission. "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."

From this we can learn the way to peace! In this world we will have trouble. Storms may rage around us. But the way to peace is doing the will of the Father. As we are sent into this world, to do the things that Jesus was sent to do, we will have peace. How can we not have peace? If we are doing what God wants us to do, then all hell may oppose us but we will be at peace.

This Christmas, I pray that you will find peace as you do the will of Him who has sent you into this world. As Jesus was sent so we are sent to do the will of the Father. This is true peace.

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