Pastor Mike has jury duty this week, and has asked me to write the article. But I’m thankful that I won’t be preaching this week. In my opinion the theme for the second Sunday of Advent is the most difficult: peace.
Peace is a complex topic in the Bible. The Bible has a lot to say about peace, and some of it is confusing. On the one hand, Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), and at His birth the angels come singing “peace on earth” (Luke 2:14). But on the other hand, Jesus warns His followers, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). We are called to “live peaceably with all” as much as it depends on us (Romans 12:18), and peace is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Yet we should also expect the world to hate us (1 John 3:13), and to be a friend of the world is to be an enemy of God (James 4:4). We proclaim the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15), yet we must not be like the false prophets who say “peace, peace” where there is no peace (Ezekiel 13:10).
Peace is a difficult topic to understand biblically; it is also a difficult topic to apply in our lives. War is a reality we can’t avoid. There are culture wars raging in our nation, as politicians and media outlets constantly work to stir up outrage against the other side. Sometimes Christians can find themselves on opposite sides of these conflicts. There is the threat of literal war, nation against nation. Many the fear of nuclear war is bubbling up once again. And of course as Christians, we are called to put on our armor and wage spiritual war against the devil every day. To be a Christian is to gear up for war and then go proclaim peace. We take our stand on the battlefield, swords drawn, and we love our enemies.
We can do this, because peace doesn’t depend on us. “For in [Christ] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:19-20). The cross secures our peace with God now. And the cross secures the peace Christ will bring when He comes again. In Revelation 5, Christ is worthy to open the scroll and bring about the ultimate fulfillment of God’s plan because He was slain (5:9). The cross is the key to history, and the key to our lives today. We trust in Christ alone for our peace with God. And we follow the way of the cross as we seek to live as people of peace in a world of war. We declare war by announcing peace; we fight by loving; we win by losing. The peace of God truly surpasses all understanding