Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” — Luke 2:13-14 (NIV)
What a night that must have been! Just a quiet evening out under the stars, until it wasn’t. Suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, angels appeared to announce the birth of the Messiah. The shepherds knew right away this was something big, and they went at once to follow the star and greet the newborn King.
How interesting that the angels brought a message of peace. Not salvation, not freedom, not prosperity, but peace. Who was this message of peace for? “To those on whom his favor rests.” And how do we find God’s favor? By believing, receiving, and surrendering to the lordship of his son, who humbly came to earth to bring us peace.
Peace manifests itself as the absence of conflict, whether armed warfare between nations or in personal relationships. But peace is also the presence of wholeness, and that is a different thing altogether. The presence of wholeness brings a deep and satisfying inner calm regardless of circumstances, and in spite of what others may or may not think of us. This peace comes when we finally realize who we are in Christ: his child, redeemed by the perfect sacrifice he offered up when he took the punishment that belonged to us. We seem to get the redemption part, but we sometimes struggle to receive the promised peace.
I have spent way too much of my life being a people-pleaser. I wanted to present a put-together persona (particularly in the early days of our ministry) and be that person that people looked up to. But it finally sunk in, deep down, that I was missing out because I was spending too much time trying to impress others and not enough time resting in the promised peace of God. There is true inner peace in the wholeness that the angels foretold. All we have to do is be real with God, turn over the keys, and let him take the driver’s seat of our lives. We don’t have to be perfect; we just have to be real and let God take us where he will. This is the road to peace.
Come back on Thursday for more on how peace is experienced in the presence of wholeness.
O come, desire of nations; bind all peoples in one heart and mind.
Bid envy, strife, and quarrels cease,
Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
–Henry S. Coffin, 1916
I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. –John 14:27a (NLT)