Dr. Phil: Well we are only weeks away from again ushering in the new year. I am finding it hard to believe that 2017 is already in the history books. However, I always look forward to this time of year as it signifies not travelling for a while and being at home over the Christmas holidays with family. Of course there is also the added enjoyment of good food, warm fires and all the other aspects associated with Christmas in our northern climate and culture.
Lately I have been reflecting on the disconnect between our global reality and that message of the heavenly host some two thousand years ago: “Peace on Earth!” On the brink of yet another new calendar year since then, peace seems no closer to us today than it was for those Jewish shepherds who first heard those words on that Judean hillside. The Messiah came, served, died, and rose again. . . and peace on earth continues to remain elusive.
Globally, the peace is currently being threatened by actors such as North Korea, Iran and many others, not to mention the numerous regional conflicts around the world at any given time and the ongoing terror threat that we are reminded about every time we go through the layers of security at any airport or public event. “Really? Peace?” The sad fact is that there has not been much peace on earth in the last two thousand years and it does not seem any more likely in 2018 than it did in 2017.
Yet as I looked at Luke 2:14 again today I noticed that the heavenly hosts actually proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (NIV) (“Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.” The Message) The Prince of Peace did come down to this world to bring peace. But his mission was not to force peace at the edge of a sword. His character and justice required that the response to his message would be voluntary, not coerced.
Peace today is upon those whom his favor rests. And the Good News is that his favor is available to all who seek it. For the shepherds it required a trip to Bethlehem to see the baby-King. For us today it is a trip to the cross where we encounter our Prince of Peace. As we read about world events it is easy to lose our peace. Yet as we enter another year, we can have a sustained peace which is not dependent upon the good will and good feelings generated from sentimental Christmas celebrations. Rather, our peace can be based upon the indwelling favor that comes from knowing Jesus, the true Prince of Peace.
In the midst of global events, as well as any personal bad news that may befall any of us in 2018, His indwelling presence is the real Good News that can keep our hearts at peace, even in the midst of the storms of life. It is a peace that is even beyond us understanding all the “why” questions. While Nancy and I wish you have a very meaningful Christmas season with family and friends, our real prayer is that his peace will be in your heart long after the tree is taken down and the warmth of the season has faded. After all, that is the real message of Christmas and it can last throughout the year.