Friday, December 17, 2010

Peace on Earth

We hear the Christmas refrain, "Peace on earth, and goodwill to men." In the coming of Jesus, there is the promise of Peace, of Shalom, of unity and harmony. And yet we know that Jesus was misunderstood and rejected. He was killed on the cross. And so we ask, "where is the peace?"
We understand that these present conflicts will be followed by eternal peace. Jesus has set the table for future peace by dealing a death blow to the devil, sin, and death. Though fatally injured, they are not yet dead, and so we feel the effects of this unholy trinity, and perhaps more fiercely, as the bull in the ring is more dangerous when injured.
So where do we find peace today? "We have peace with God though our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). Peace is found among Christians, expressed in "same mind,. same love,. same spirit,. same purpose" as they "let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:2,5 paraphrased).
The irony is that Christian peace and harmony are hard-fought prizes. To gain peace, Jesus died. To share peace, Christians seek to tell of Christ to those who may not want to hear. To maintain or re-gain peace, believers "speak the truth in love," employing honesty and humility to un-cover and root out buried lusts and lies that interrupt Christian fellowship.
Peace and harmony, heavenly realities, can quickly become twisted to describe earthly travesties. We do not have peace when we do not speak the truth, and we have no harmony when there is not the flow and expression of love. Absence of conflict can just as well be a "cold war" as peace. Failure to confront can be an expression of "I don't care." 
There will always be a host of antagonisms and frustrations on earth. There will be none in heaven. In the communities of believers, heaven's outposts on earth, let there be "peace on earth, and goodwill to men."

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