English Ministry

Advent--Peace

Date: 
Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The peace that comes from being in a right relationship with God is not the peace of this world. The world’s peace depends on having favorable circumstances: if things are going well, then we feel peaceful; when things go bad, the peace quickly vanishes.

I was looking this week at a couple of famous images that illustrate the world’s idea of peace.

One is Picasso’s Dove of Peace. Picasso of course is one of history’s most renowned painters, and he lived in Paris during the Nazi occupation. After the war had ended, he was invited to design an emblem to represent peace, for the First International Peace Conference in Paris in 1949. Picasso later developed the emblem into a simple, graphic line drawing that is one of the world's most recognizable symbols of peace.  

The second one is the logo commonly recognized as the “peace sign”, was designed in 1958 by an English professional artist named Gerald Holtom, as the logo for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. At the time of the Vietnam War, the peace sign became the hippie official logo, and gained further worldwide prominence during the 1969 summer of Woodstock, with it’s slogan” "Three Days of Peace and Music “

The reason the world’s peace can come and go so quickly is because the idea of peace does not have any substance in and of itself.  Peace, as it’s own engine and it’s own destination, is doomed to fail.

Idealistic human peace initiatives are always separated from reality, because until we deal with the sinful condition of the human heart, there can never be lasting peace. The reality is, that apart from Christ, rallying for world peace is about as productive as sprinkling pixie dust over humanity.

I read a paper written by Milton Leitenberg, a student in the Cornell University Peace Studies Program, where I learned that since the end of World War II, over 40 million people have died in wars and conflicts globally.   

And four decades on, the impact of Woodstock is still being felt globally. Not for the peace and balance it promised, but instead for the transformative effect it had on society, popularizing unchecked sexuality and rampant substance abuse—so much for the best intentions of Picasso’s Dove, and Holtom’s Peace Sign.

Jesus made the distinction between His peace and the world’s vacillating peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives” (John 14:27).  

We read earlier the words of Isaiah, who prophetically introduced Jesus Christ with a few remarkable titles, one of them being “Prince of Peace”. Now follow this, as the Prince or ruling Monarch of Peace, he is the one—the only one—who dispenses it.

It is all at his command. In this very hour the Son of God, our Saviour, the Prince of Peace is dispensing peace in great abundance according to his own sovereign will to all the subjects of his Kingdom.

Our peace with God flows from Him, as does peace among people; and peace of conscience and peace of mind are also gifts from him.

I’ve built a simple acrostic from the letters that spell the word peace, to help us see the remarkable characteristics of the peace that Jesus gives to us.

 

Passes Understanding

In Philippians 4:7 (ESV) the Apostle Paul, wrote us a mind-blowing promise: “The peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”   This peace will transcend our ability to reason it, or to fully comprehend it, because God’s supernatural peace surpasses natural understanding.

You can study physics, and in time your brain may master the equations, you can study language, and eventually your tongue may speak it; but you will spend a lifetime trying to grasp how God can soothe the human soul, and you’ll still die trying.

The believer who places his or her full confidence in a loving God, who is incapable of error, and can honestly thank him in every circumstance, will possess a supernatural peace that we don’t have to understand to experience and enjoy.  

 

Energizing

In the 23rd Psalm, we hear David say, “ He restores my soul” Have you ever been so scared that you couldn’t move—physically or mentally—no matter how hard you tried?  You couldn’t put one foot in front of the other, and you certainly couldn’t make a decision. Fear paralyzes us, but the peace of Jesus restores our strength. It gives us energy, vitality, creativity, and spontaneity.

You’ll hear stories of musicians who wrote their best songs just after they had fallen in love—why is that? It’s because the satisfaction of a peaceful heart will revitalize a person to create like never before. And consider Martin Luther King Jr.—how do you suppose he was able to inspire thousands to peacefully walk with him in opposing racial segregation? It was because of the peace of God was ruling inside of his heart, and energizing him to seek justice. There is a dynamic, energizing force in the quiet word, peace.

 

Abiding

The peace that God offers is not the absence of adversity, nor is it the end of trials and trouble. As followers of Christ we are not insulated and immune from all difficulty. Nevertheless, in the midst of pressing problems and overwhelming obstacles we have the assurance of Christ's abiding presence, which produces abiding peace.

Let God’s promise in Isaiah 43:2 (NLT) give you hope:

" When you go through deep waters,I will be with you.

When you go through rivers of difficulty,you will not drown.

When you walk through the fire of oppression,you will not be burned up;the flames will not consume you.”  

The two key words in this passage are “with” and "through." As children of God we are never overrun in the flood, and are never consumed by the fire – we never walk alone while we are passing through!

 

Calming

"Keep Calm and Carry On” was a motivational poster produced by the British government in 1939 in preparation for the Second World War. They were to be posted on public transport, in shop windows, upon notice boards and on fences across Britain. It was to be issued only upon the invasion of Britain by Germany, and would serve as a reminder that as prepared British citizens, they would weather the winds of war.

Likewise, Ephesians 6:13 reminds citizens of God’s Kingdom, that when we—by preparing ourselves in the full armour of God—have done all to stand, we can calmly rest in Jesus, knowing he will help us prevail when we are called to face personal battles.

An inner calm will dominate the heart. It is a great mystery of God how believers can remain serene even when the most ferocious battles—like lay-offs at work, bad medical reports, losing a loved one, unhappy homes etc.—assault our lives    

No one, outside of Christ, will sense that calm.

Only the faithful believer has a hiding place, a cleft in the rock, a strong tower, and the hope of deliverance.  Their hearts and minds are guarded, and they will know peace.

 

Everlasting

How enduring is this peace that Jesus has promised us? It is everlasting throughout eternity. Jesus paid too high a price for you and me to give the warranty on his purchase an expiry date. Want proof? Hear these words from Colossians 1:20-22 (NLT)

Through (Jesus) God reconciled everything to himself.

He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross…he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

That is a promise that extends through all the trials of life, all the cruelty of death, and all the peaceful bliss of eternity.

Ephesians 2:14 teaches, that “he himself is our peace”, and he is not going anywhere. And as sure as he remains, his peace abides.

Final Thought

You know, I like Picasso’s peace dove—I find it a work of art that is “simply” great. And two of my grand-daughters have taken to wearing pyjamas with the peace sign on them—it takes me back to my youth and I kind of like the symbol. Still, I’m sure glad that I don’t have to look to creative symbols, and worldly concepts in my search for peace.

This Christmas season, let’s realize again how profound this peace, dispensed by our Saviour Prince, can be in each of our lives.

--Pastor Craig Eagle