PEACE ON EARTH
Luke 2:14 Princeton Christian Church 12 December 2021
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.”
In one of his letters to the Corinthian Church, the apostle Paul says that the tongues of men and angels can begin to sound like a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal when the absence of love is felt. Here in Luke, announcing the birth of the Savior of the world, the angels sing a beautiful song. “Glory to God – Peace to men.” There is no resounding gong nor any clanging cymbal in that song. It is a song of peace on earth.
I believe that this concept of peace on earth, being in addition to one of the most used phrases at Christmas time, is one of the most misunderstood phrases as well. And, quite possibly, has lost its meaning in the process.
Look at the earth.
Do you see peace on earth?
Do you see goodwill?
Or do you see turmoil and ill will?
Now, we can look at Iraq or Iran, or Russia, Afghanistan or Haiti, or any number of countries across the world where we know there is national and international unrest today. This unrest is interrupting the peace. But you don’t have to look at far distant land to find unrest and a lack of peace. We need only to look in our own neighborhoods, our own towns where people are at odds with one another, and peace is non-existent. We sometimes find it in our own homes, in the church, and wherever there are people with ideas and opinions.
So, where is the peace the heavenly host of angels speaks of? And, just to find a place to begin – what is peace? First of all, peace is the harmonious relationship between God and man, the peace which was, and is, accomplished through the Gospel.
Jesus tells us in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
So, when Jesus came to the earth in the form of a baby in a manger, He came as the Prince of Peace.
As He prepared to leave this world, as in John 14, He left His followers with the gift of peace. His gift of peace was not like any other. It could be found nowhere else, except through the indwelling of His Spirit. His Spirit dwelling within us as the Comforter He has promised would be ours.
When we have that gift of peace, we have no need to fear anything. We are living in a relationship of harmony with God through the Peace-maker, Jesus Christ.
In John 16:33 Jesus again says we may have peace in Him. He also says we will have troubles in this world, but that He has overcome the world. Therefore, these troubles should not overtake our lives, but peace must dominate in our lives because we know He has overcome all things for us. So, our peace comes from no other source than Jesus Christ.
We also can have peace because of our faith in Jesus. Romans 5:1 says: “Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Again, when we know we can rely upon Jesus Christ because He has brought us salvation, and He has conquered the world, we can live peaceful lives. Simply believing – trusting – having faith in Him can bring us peace and tranquility, a calm assurance that will carry us through many trials, troubles, and heartaches.
Peace comes, not only at the birth of Jesus but also in the atoning work of Christ on the cross. At one time, according to Ephesians 2:12-18, we were foreigners, a people without hope and without God. And, if we are without God, we are also without peace.
But now, since Jesus’ coming into the world, His three years of teaching, and since His death on the cross, we are brought close to Him through the blood which poured out of His physical body.
His death made all men one. All were given the opportunity to accept Him as Savior of the world. All the walls which divided were torn down. All the binding legalistic regulations of the Law were abolished.
He created one new man – and so – he created peace between man and God. By His death, all of humanity now has the opportunity to become reconciled to God – to live in a harmonious relationship with Him.
Jesus Christ came, and He preached peace to us, and to those who are near to us, and to those who are far away.
The most wonderful benefit of that peace is the fact that we can now have access to the Father by the spirit of peace that Jesus Christ left with us.
We are encouraged by the apostle Paul in Colossians 3:15 to “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts since as members of One Body you were called to peace.”
Since we are a part of Jesus Christ – a part of His Body – how can we live in any other kind of condition?
Peaceful living has to be the thrust of our lives. Even when there are problematic areas in our lives we cannot cope with or understand, we are to be anxious about nothing because: “the peace of God transcends all understanding guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7.
So, whatever we do, whatever we face, whatever we have known and learned we can be well assured that “the peace of God will be with us.”
Peace is necessary if we are to live in harmony with God. It is also necessary if we are to enjoy a harmonious relationship between the people we live with, work with, and contact in everyday life.
That is – peace is the existence of good relationships among one another.
The Christian should try to live at peace, at all times, with all people.
Paul says in Romans 12:18: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Did you hear what he said there?
“As far as it depends on you. It depends upon each one of us.! That leaves us with a great personal responsibility to keep the peace on earth. He Is telling us it is up to each one to promote peace.
He goes on to tell us how we can do this. It is simple, really. Don’t take or seek revenge. Don’t always try to get even. If you have any enemies, rather than do them harm, or seek revenge, overcome them with good, kind, loving actions – feed them, give them a cup of thirst-quenching water.
The best way to get rid of an enemy is to make him your friend. Become a promoter of peace, rather than an agitator or anger. Be a peacemaker.
The writer to the Hebrews warns us to “make every effort to live in peace with all men.” It is up to us as individuals. Each has a responsibility to contribute to the peace wherever we are, in whatever situation. Every possible attempt at peace is to be tried in order to gain peace – even to be kind and loving to our enemies.
The Christian should especially be at peace with fellow believers. Paul’s encouragement in Romans 14:19 parallels what we just read from the Hebrews writer when he tells us: “Let us, therefore, make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” Every effort must be made to keep peace within the Body of Christ.
Whatever we do must result in a peaceful attitude. That, of course, does not mean that everyone will be satisfied or approved. But the peaceful attitude allows us to continue doing the work of the Lord together.
Whatever we do must result in the building up of each member of the Body. We must never do something which would destroy the peace in the Body, and which would cause some members of the Body to be broken down rather than built up.
“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:3.
Colossians 3:14 – “Over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
Oh, that we could always get that done right! The things that Jesus Christ brought with Him – even in the manger – and left with us – on the cross – are peace and love. These are the two things that bind our hearts and our lives together.
We can sing about the hope for peace on earth and instead create chaos. It becomes only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. We can sing about love all day long and never express it and it becomes just a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. Both become empty, meaningless sounds coming from an empty, uncaring bell.
Let us never allow ourselves merely to speak, or sing, or hope for peace on earth. Let us rather remember that Jesus Christ left us this peace. And it is up to us to make peace a part of our world and to make peace a vital part of our very lives!
Several years ago, a song became popular. Hear the words to this song some of you may remember:
“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.
With God as our Father, brothers all are we,
Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony”
Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”
Peace can be yours. It can begin by accepting Jesus Christ who gives you that peace.