“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men’” (Luke 12:13-14 NKJV).
No word is more descriptive of the ultimate impact of the coming of Jesus than the word “peace.” It was proclaimed in the announcement of his birth. It is part of one of his many divine and royal titles (i.e., “Prince of Peace,” Isaiah 9:6). Through Jesus who “Himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14), we are reconciled with God and with other humans. Jesus “preached peace to you who were far off and to peace to those who were near” (Ephesians 2:17).
Paul characteristically saluted the recipients of his letters with “Peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2, and many others). He promised those who trust in Christ that “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
Those promises are desperately needed in this time of unrest and turmoil. Wars rage in many parts of the earth, and are threatened almost everywhere. Violence abounds everywhere as selfishness, jealousy and rage continue to flourish (James 4:1-3).
The “perilous times” prophesied by Paul (2 Timothy 3:1-9) would become so because of the evil hearts of the population, especially because of selfishness, greed, pride, and unbelief. War and violence are an inevitable result of such characteristics.
Jesus’ influence towards peace is apparent when one spends much time in cultures where he is not known, his story is untold, and his will is rejected. In much of our current world, especially where Christianity is a minority religion, hate is more popular than love. Vengeance is far more desired than forgiveness. Pride rules as humility is disdained. It is not surprising that violence, crime, and terrorism are rampant in those places (not that they are absent where the Bible is common). There is no tradition of teaching mercy, unselfishness, and consideration for others in those cultures. As a result, peace is rare and little valued.
Yet as individuals we need and crave peace. Lives in turmoil are rarely happy and successful (if ever). We seek security, calm, and rest. These are not obtained through large savings or retirement accounts, or via insurance policies or security systems in our homes. True peace is achieved by reconciliation with God and the security which he bestows upon us as a result of our faith and obedience.
Jesus came to give us peace. Let us receive it, and share it with others.