There are seventeen days until Christmas. Insanity, people. Where did the year go? It feels like just a little while ago, I was brainstorming for names (this site was almost named Splattered Journal Pages, but hey, I changed my mind a few hundred times over it) and looking up WordPress how-to articles (thank you SO MUCH, Amy Lynn Andrews).
At risk of sounding cliché, I’d like to discuss a few terms in this post and the next that we throw around during Christmastime, and dig deep into their true meanings.
Peace on earth. (This post.)
Joy and happiness.
Good will toward men.
These are all great things. But instead of the deep meanings, we sometimes exchange them for cheap reflections. Instead of thinking of the peace we have with God when hearing ‘peace on earth,’ the word evokes a different feeling, something resembling hippie vans and that whole counter-culture thing in the sixties. Same goes for love and happiness.
Maybe you don’t associate biblical Christmas-y terms with worldly meanings. If not, awesome. But I believe that this world has been so tainted with incorrect things claiming to be right, and they really aren’t. This, my friends, is our problem.
I’ll start with peace.
According to the King James Version, Luke 2:14 says,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
What do you think of when you envision peace? The upside-down y-and-line inside a circle? No wars on earth ever again? The tranquility of a summer day on a lake?
As much as all of these things are a part of peace – none of them are the full definition.
We even see BABY JESUS in the little nativity scene, and say,
“Oh joy, what a beautiful child. It must have been a wonderful night – Mary giving birth while happily sighing, Jesus sleeping not crying, a nice warm blanket for the King of Kings, and snow dusting everything. It was a Silent Night, after all…how peaceful.”
But seriously, do we really think it went that way? The Bible says no such things. Labor is painful, whether you’re Mary or Mary Sue. Babies cry, because they are trying out their lungs for the first time, and can’t say “hey Mom, I’m hungry.” Jesus was wrapped in strips of cloth and placed in a feeding trough, not silk, and not in a crib. Jerusalem rarely gets snow, and with all the clamor of a new baby and shepherds visiting, it was probably far from silent.
If our definition of peace is based on supposed circumstances of the first Christmas, we aren’t seeing the whole picture.
This is real peace.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Peace with God.
This peace refers to the fact that we were once stained by sin and enemies of God. Through Jesus, our sins are forgiven, done away with, and replaced by Jesus’ righteousness.
Because our sins are forgiven, we can now have a relationship with God. The enmity between us and Him is gone. He no longer sees us as filthy sinners, but as righteous saints, bearing the image of His Son.
This is peace.
Sure, tranquility and other things can come out of having peace with God. But when we think baby-in-the-manger, we must have the right perspective on peace.
Jesus is the Prince of Peace. The peace we celebrate at Christmas isn’t an image of simple tranquility in the stable, but of changed lives. Jesus provided that peace for us. Peace with God was given to us by Him alone – and this is the peace that we are to celebrate.