Where is the Peace on Earth?

 I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said,
‘For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.’

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.’

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

~ Wadsworth

I wonder if when Wadsworth penned those words, he expected to someday see peace on earth. Or was he speaking wistfully about some day hung in eternity, about as accessible as the stars? Certainly, no one even today, nearly 150 years later, would dare to say we have achieved peace on earth.

Here in America, we have come as close to peace as anyone. Most of us live safe, predictable lives. But even here we have domestic violence, natural disasters, political arguments, road rage, rivalry, and worse. Even at this season when we blissfully sing of peace, havoc reigns. Just last week: An inexplicable mass shooting at an elementary school – 27 people killed.

Why is this? What can we do? This morning on talk radio, commentators were asking, “What law do we need to prevent this kind of thing from happening?” The answer isn’t in a Christmas carol. It isn’t in Washington. The United Nations can’t bring about world unity. However, Peace will come from authority. 

Think of it, what do you do when you feel anxious? If you’re like me, you set out on a frantic course to determine the problem, find the solution and relax once more in your manufactured peace. The trouble is, in no time, you and I are in turmoil again.

Do you ever say something like, “Oh to be a kid again, no cares in the world.” The reason kids have no cares is that they are happily submitted to the authority of their parents. Their peace comes from knowing that Mom and Dad will feed them, clothe them, tell them what to do and when to do it, answer their questions, calm their fears, kill the boogieman, dry their tears, tuck them in and teach them what they need to know. What would you give to have that kind of peace again?

This is what the LORD says–your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. Is. 48:17

World peace, personal peace, eternal peace is found under authority. And therein is the main reason we miss it. The older we get the less we like the idea of taking orders from someone else. The older we get the more confident we become that we can take care of ourselves. But, what if there was someone worthy to exercise authority over us? And what if that someone was implicitly good and trustworthy?

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Is. 9:6

We have been given PEACE, peace incarnate. And yet, this peace is a prince; he has come to rule.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Col. 3:15

Do not think that you can experience His peace unless He has full authority over your heart.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7

The peace of Christ is for those who like little children with a benevolent parent, bring their troubles to Him, instead of insisting on their own solution.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Is. 26:3

The Prince of Peace gives peace to those who look to Him for truth and trust His answers.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
1 Timothy 2:1-2

And this Peace of Christ is for today, it is peace on earth (Luke 2:14). For even the peace that we desire in our homes, between our political parties, between our nations, is only experienced under the authority of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

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The Secret to World Peace (and yours)

In an election season, ‘peace’ is the buzzword. Every politician vying for your vote is promising you peace through their plan. Peace in your finances, peace in the form of less crime, international peace, partisan peace, peace with minorities and the absence of hate.

They valiantly pledge their lives to the betterment of public life. Then they turn around and viciously sling mud at their opponent. The worst part is, they can’t all be right! So where do we go for real, true peace?

The simple answer is: God. But unfortunately, that’s become a token response, spoken almost as glibly as a first grader in Sunday school class.

“Well, I’m just praying that God will intervene. If we would all just be obedient to God. Well, God’s going to punish America and then He will establish His peace.”

I’m absolutely not denying the fact that God Jehovah is the source of peace. Jesus Christ is called the Prince of Peace. In the Gospels, Jesus says, “My peace I give to you.”

If generations, centuries of Christians have believed that God is the source of peace for the world, then why do we not experience peace on earth? At the very least, why don’t we have peace in our own homes?

Remember the “good old days”? We say that when we look at our kids and realize that they have no concerns.

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful, we think, to go back to having no worries, just trusting that Mom and Dad would take care of things? Those nights when you slept well; your breaths were soft and deep and you only cried if you stubbed your toe. Even then, Mom or Dad always had the power to make it better.”

Matthew 19:14 says, “But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Ah children, peaceful, quiet, innocent babes. (Not always, but you get my analogy.)

So what are they doing right?

In her Bible study, Living Beyond Yourself, Beth Moore made a startling observation – at least to me. She said, “peace is always associated with authority.” Think about it, your child lives peacefully, relative to you, because she is under your authority. This position includes being loved by you, cared for by you, advised by you and disciplined by you.

I have been mulling over that idea for a couple days. Then this morning, my Father showed me this truth definitively in His own words.

Colossians 3:15 says, “And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”

Peace is found under the rulership of Jesus Christ. When I try to be my own authority, peace becomes an illusion.

In Isaiah 9:6, Jesus is called the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. The next verse tell us of His governance. Jesus brings peace to those who are under His authority.

Question: In my most harried moments, the days when my brain feels as if it’s filled with rabid birds, when the anxiety almost seems to physically burn my insides: am I under Christ’s authority? If so, then like a child, I can simply trust my Father – to love me, care for me, advise me and discipline me.

One final thought, that I hope to explore in more detail later:
Ever since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, tension has been an inevitable part of marriage relationships. There God cursed the man to be frustrated in his ambitions and the woman’s desire to be for her husband. Most scholars believe this indicates a power struggle between the two.

Throughout the Bible, God calls the man to be a leader in the home and for the woman to submit to his authority. We also know that God does not prefer men to women, or women to children or one race over another. So why this submission thing? Aren’t we equals?

Could it be that God knows in our sin-sick world, peace-less-ness will reign? I think He is offering us peace on earth by saying, “Yes, I love you the same, you are equal. But peace comes with authority. For the sake of peace in your homes, I am establishing a leader and a follower.” What do you think?

Questioning a Prayer

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:12-17

I was praying through this passage this morning and two related questions came to mind.

1. Does Christ’s authority (rule) bring peace in my heart?

2. Do I see peace as my calling?

Thoughts?

Considering Consider

Recently, someone shared with me their least favorite verse in the Bible. “You therefore be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48.

James 1:2 used to be a hang up for me. “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,”. How can God possibly expect us to consider trails joyful?

In our modern vernacular, consider often means, “ to ponder, to bear in mind, to have an opinion, or make allowances for.” (www.dictionary.com) That usage is not very conclusive; it implies an either/or stance.

My sisters and I recently took each other to task, two on two, debating the color of our mom’s car.  Jennifer and Rachelle considered it gray, Kelsey and I considered it bronze or taupe. The battle escalated until we called our mom. We finally insisted that dad pull the car’s original paperwork to prove one side of the discussion. Kelsey and I won.

This brings consider into focus, regardless of how Rachelle and Jennifer considered the appearance of the car, there was a verifiable truth. Truthfully, if I meditate on my trials for very long, I will most certainly not conclude that they are joyful. But, maybe it doesn’t matter how long we ponder our trials. Maybe it isn’t a case of analyzing all the possible good that God may bring out of our pain.

The Greek word for consider, in James 1:2 is hégeomai, meaning, “I lead, I think.” Additionally, it can mean, “to lead, command, have authority over.” When you replace consider, in James 1:2, with the fuller definition, one way it reads is, “Have authority over all joy, my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds.” That’s a different perspective!

This broader explanation of James 1:2, leads us to 2 Corinthians 10:5b, another verse that I have long wondered how to obey, “…and take every thought captive to obey Christ,”. A captive is under the authority of his captor. Biblically, even in the midst of trials, we are the captors, we are in authority of our own joy.

Now on to the rest of James 1:3-4, “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing.”

Do you see the linkage back to my friend’s least favorite verse? James is telling us how to be perfect. Could it be that God will bring us to speechless awe at His never ending ability to reconcile the most polar opposites: trials and joy, perfection and pain?

For what it’s worth, let me offer you my personal paraphrase of the these two passages side by side: Brothers, take authority over your joy when you encounter various trials. Take captive under your authority all your thoughts and fears. It is an indisputable fact that when you remain obedient in the hardest situations you will become more perfect, more like your Heavenly Father. 

And the crowing conclusion: The fulfillment of this obedience, this increasing Christ-likeness, is God’s glory.

“Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all, while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”

2 Corinthians 9:13-14