In my last post I explained that even though Christ’s birth didn’t actually usher in a time of “peace on earth,” prophecy teaches that one day He will bring in such a time, one thousand years worth of it to be exact. Now, with this post, I want to explain that Christ’s birth did usher in a time when the individual who believes in Him as Savior can come to know a personal peace.
First, this personal peace involves the believer being at peace with God, his Maker. The classic verse on this is Romans 5:1:
Therefore, having been justified by faith (referring to faith in Christ), we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I’m reminded of that story about the preacher who asked the man, “Have you made peace with God?” The man answered, “I didn’t know that we were fighting.” Well, the fact is that every member of the human race is born fighting with God. Romans 3:10-12 says:
There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.
Yes, the sinner is at war with holy God. That’s the bad news. But the good news is that Jesus, through His shed blood (Colossians 1:19-20), has laid a peace treaty on the table for any individual who will sign it. Isaiah 53:5 describes it so beautifully:
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for out iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
Second, this personal peace involves the believer being at peace with himself. Christ’s words from John 14:27 refer to this kind of inner peace. He says to His disciples:
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
In a recent series of devotions, my friend Malcolm Woody has been dissecting Philippians chapter 4, specifically as the verses relate to the inner peace of the believer. The devotions have driven home to me afresh and anew the fact that inner peace is there for the taking if the believer desires it. But even as I read those devotions each day it didn’t dawn on me that there was one particular area of my life concerning which I didn’t have an inner peace. It wasn’t until my brother Richie pointedly said to me the other day, “You just don’t a peace about you right now,” that I came to grips with the truth of that statement. I feel like the Lord worked through Malcolm’s devotions to set me on a tee and then He worked through Richie to whack me out of the park. Since my conversation with Richie, I’ve really been working hard at accessing the inner peace that I am afforded in Jesus as it relates to that one troublesome area of my life.
Christian, I gave you that bit of personal testimony to let you know that I speak from personal experience when I ask you if your heart is troubled about something right now. Is there some circumstance, some situation, some problem in your life for which you have no inner peace? If there is, you are, as I was, living beneath your privilege because you aren’t abiding in the peace that Jesus has given you. You need to repent of your worrying. You need to give up on trying to control things you can’t control. Most of all, you need to put your complete trust in your sovereign Savior and let His peace well up from inside you and begin to dominate your life as it should. A troubled heart and the peace that Jesus has given you just can’t coexist. We, as Christians, should obey the command of Colossians 3:15 and “let the peace of God rule in our hearts.”
Third, this personal peace involves the believer being at peace with others. Ephesians 2:14 plays off the fact that in the Jewish temple there was a wall that separated the Court of the Gentiles from the areas that were exclusively for the Jews. The verse says of Jesus:
For He Himself is our peace, who made both (the Jew and the Gentile) one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation.
In Bible times, it would have been impossible to imagine too more different people than the Jew and the Gentile. They were completely different races. They came from radically different backgrounds. They had strikingly different customs. And yet, through Jesus, the Jew and the Gentile could now be at peace with each other. This proves that, through Jesus, the Christian can peaceably get along with others. Jesus Himself says in Mark 9:50, “…have peace with one another.” Hebrews 12:14 chimes right in with that by saying, “…Pursue peace with all people.” And in 1 Thessalonians 5:13, Paul says to the Christians of Thessalonica, “Be at peace among yourselves.”
On the heels of such verses, you know what I’m going to ask you. Are you fighting with someone right now? Is there a person with which you currently are not at peace? If there is, let me encourage you to do all that you can to make peace with them, whoever they are. Remember that in His Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught that His followers (whom He called sons of God) should be “peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9). That means you, Christian. I’ll also quote Paul again here too. In Romans 12:18, he says:
If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
These words certainly ring true for any time of the year, but surely they ring all the more true for this season of Christmas. How can a Christian properly celebrate the birth of his Savior, the Peace-Giver, if he is at war with a fellow human being? I know, I know, Paul said “If it is possible…”, and maybe you are saying, “It’s just not possible with that person.” Well, maybe it isn’t, and maybe you and that person will never want to climb into a car and take a road-trip together, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t at least do your part to make peace. At the very least, you can stop throwing gasoline onto the fire and making the relationship worse. Ask Jesus to help you to know exactly what to do and what not to do, and trust that He will. Take heart in the fact that peace between yourself and others is one of the kinds of peace that He died to bring you.