When Jesus Christ was born, a company of angels proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14). As recipients of God’s peace, Christians are unique in this violent and selfish world. The Spirit of God leads Christians to a life of peacemaking, of caring, of giving, of love.
In contrast, the world around us is constantly embroiled in strife and intolerance, whether political, ethnic, religious or social. Even now, whole regions are threatened by modem eruptions of ancient grudges and hatreds. Jesus Christ illustrated the stark difference that would mark his own disciples when he told them, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves” (Matthew 10:16).
Peoples of the world, divided in so many ways, cannot find the way to peace. The way of this world is the way of self-interest. It is the greedy way, the envious way, the hate-filled way. But Jesus told his disciples, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14:27, NKJV).
Christians are called to be diligent before God to “pursue the things which make for peace” and to “pursue peace with all men, and holiness” (Romans 14:19; Hebrews 12:14, NKJV). They are partakers of “all joy and peace…by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
This kind of peace, “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), overcomes divisions, dissensions and feelings of separatism and party spirit in which humans find themselves embroiled. It leads instead toward harmony and a sense of common purpose and destiny—”the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3, NKJV).
It means that we will forgive those who wrong us. It means we will show mercy to those in need. It means that kindness, honesty, generosity, humility and patience, all underscored by love, will mark our relationships with others. It means that greed, sexual sin, substance abuse, hatred, envy, bitterness, strife and mistreatment of others will not maintain a root in our lives.
Christ will be living in us. James wrote of Christians, “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:18). This kind of peace also gives us assurance and security in the face of disaster, calm and strength in the midst of tragedy. Christians are not immune from the problems of life.
Christians have to struggle through periods of grief and hurt like everyone else. But we have divine help and assurance to hold us up. Though our physical circumstances may be gloomy and dark, the peace of God that lies within us keeps us settled, sure and steadfast, confident in the hope of Jesus Christ’s return, when his peace will at last encompass all the earth.
As we await that glorious day, let’s remember the words of the apostle Paul in Colossians 3:15: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Do you need peace in your life? The Prince of Peace—Jesus Christ—is where you’ll find it!
Author: Joseph W. Tkach