For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end…
It is nearly impossible to wake up each day and overlook the reality that our world lacks peace. Conflict is everywhere. Nations war against one another, egregious evil is on display within the borders of every nation on earth. People are at war within themselves, anxiety and depression are at an all-time high. The state of politics in our country alone seems hopelessly divided and contentious. More alarming than that, there are divisions within the church – I read an article this morning in Christianity Today, where the author concedes that creating unity and peace within the church seems unlikely – And the church is supposedly the place where peace between the most ardent of opponents can happen and is, in fact, God’s plan for where it will happen.
And yet, there is right now at this very moment a heavenly realm gloriously governed and in perfect peace. It is very difficult to imagine what perfect peace is like. In fact, it is easier to understand the nature of peace when we don’t have it… when we consider what we lack. I don’t know what perfect peace is like, but I can open my eyes and tell you in careful detail what it’s not like.
And so intuitively we can understand the nature of God’s perfect peace when we consider what we lack. We can pray with great precision for perfect peace to overcome conflict, division, bigotry, and hate. We can pray for peace on earth just as it is in that heavenly realm of glorious peace. Here is why the second week of Advent is Peace: At Christmastime, we remember and reflect that the prince of that realm came to earth.
The angels sang and the shepherds gathered to marvel because, in fact, peace came on earth. Peace – we discover in the mystery of Christmas – is not a feeling or a state being between people or nations. Peace is a person.
Paul writes in Ephesians 2:14
For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility…
The reason we do not experience peace in the world, and even in the church, is that we have not fully submitted to the rule and authority of the Prince of Peace. Until we have taken possession of our inheritance, for which the Holy Spirit is our downpayment (see Ephesians 1:3-14), the sinful nature remains within us. The Christian life is one of increasingly submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and putting death the things of the flesh.
The path to peace is paved in submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Paul goes on to write (verse 15) that Jesus breaks down the dividing wall of hostility: “by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,”
This means that there is nothing on earth that divides humanity (whether it be language, culture, religion, politics) greater than the power of Jesus to unite humanity (namely the blood of Jesus that covers our sin so we can approach God). This is of paramount importance because Paul then writes (verse 16): “and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”
Jesus is Peace: Peace with God, Peace with ourselves, Peace with each other. But the Prince of Peace will not force himself on anyone. Salvation is a gift of grace received through faith. Those who submit to His Lordship can and will experience the peace that surpasses human understanding. What’s more – They can become peacemakers, Jesus said blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons and daughters of God (Matthew 5:9).