Call Him Peace (Isaiah 9:6, Colossians 1:15-23)
It’s really difficult to imagine our world at peace. From the anxiety and self-doubt within us to the enmity between nations, conflict is everywhere. Even in this season of good cheer and generosity, friendships are broken over differences in personal beliefs, communities are divided for various reasons, and government leaders at every level clash over ideology and priorities. As far as it is up to human beings, true and lasting peace is impossible. Only a force outside our world can offer the hope of peace.
Over the centuries, the Nativity has been the subject of much artwork. Google it. Notice that in all the paintings, a blissful Mary and Joseph huddle around the animal trough full of clean straw and the glowing infant Messiah. The scene is one of absolute peace. But if you study history, you know that the world at that time was anything but peaceful. There was war. There was oppression by both government and religious leaders. Taxes were high. Many people suffered in poverty. They were hungry, sick, and dying. Into that world of conflict, the savior of the world was born. The Prince of Peace.
And yet, the world doesn’t seem any more peaceful today than it was that night so long ago. There is still oppression. For some, taxes are burdensome. Many people, even in a country as affluent and free as ours, are suffering in poverty. Hungry, sick, dying. There are wars and acts of terrorism. Discrimination. We seem to have lost the ability—or even the desire—to be civil to one another. We are weary of the news of harassment, neglect, abuse, and worse. Where is peace?
When we keep our eyes trained on the world and its strife, we feel anxious and troubled. But if we look to Jesus, we can experience his peace. Despite our surroundings, we can find rest in him. Remember the story of Jesus, asleep in the bottom of the boat as the disciples fought the wind and waves in the middle of the lake during a storm? “Don’t you care that we’re going to die?” they shouted at him. He answered them by speaking to the storm: “Peace. Be still.” In obedience, the wind ceased and the waters calmed. He offers us this same peace in the midst of the storms in our lives. Those storms might continue to rage on, but he, the center, will hold. Despite the turmoil around us, we can be at peace because we trust that he is ultimately in control, that ultimately everything is obedient to him.
And ultimately, the entire world will submit to him. When Jesus returns to his fully established earthly kingdom, he will quiet the winds of division and calm the waves of strife. We can look forward to that day with hopeful anticipation, but meanwhile, we can do our part to bring peace to our homes, to our circle of friends, to our workplaces, and to our communities. When we allow Jesus to settle our anxious hearts, we then become agents for peace. Just as one person’s civility can induce civility in others, one person at peace can make a difference in a crowd. It all begins with Jesus. For to us, all of us, a child is born. To us a Son is given. And he shall be called . . . the Prince of Peace.