Advent 2015: The Arrival…

Advent_2015

A Call for Peace

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” 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 among those with whom he is pleased!”” (Luke 2:8–14, ESV)

In the early morning hours of July 21, 2007 I discovered a truth that has been a transforming discovery that changed my life and for me it has proven repeatedly to be a great truth ever. However it’s ironic because as new as it was over 8 years ago it wasn’t just a new truth at all instead it has proven to be the GREATEST truth EVER.

Before telling you what it is I’ve also discovered something about truth itself – truth is like a key, a key that unlocks the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in a person who has just discovered a previously unknown truth.

Now back to the greatest truth. But you’ll probably say to yourself, “I knew that.”

Peace is where you find it and because god is in everything peace is in everything as well – and peace is not the absence of conflict peace is the presence of god!

Never in our lives have we needed Peace more. Never in our lives have we faced so many situations that call for us to face them with Peace.

“God of Peace be with us.”

Never in my life have I needed Peace more than this very moment. Never in my life have I faced so many situations that call for me to face them with Peace.

“God of Peace be with me.”

Never in the life of our world has it needed Peace more than this very moment. Never in the life of our world has it faced so many situations that call for it to face them with Peace.

“God of Peace be with our world.”

Today, this very moment in time we as Christians are being called to the task of being the body of Christ. We are being called to give Jesus permission to live his life through us as individuals and as a unified Christian community. We are called to be God’s people, a people who are to be spreaders of Peace.

Peace’s Mission…

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. (Isaiah 61:1 – 61:3 ESV)

Peace’s Vision…

As Christians we envision a time when all evil is overcome and the true gospel of by Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace prevails upon all peoples of the earth. We join with Jesus looking for and working toward bringing about God’s Kingdom on earth.

With our mission and vision firmly planted in our hearts within the limits of our understanding how we define the Peace will greatly affect our efforts to bring it into reality.

Are we expecting to see an end to all conflict?

Are we expecting Jesus to stand in our midst say, “Peace be still,” and see every storm we face subside?

Are we expecting to live a life of luxury high on the hill?

Are we expecting to be immediately blessed with everything we need to be a source of Peace the instant we walk through the doorways of our churches without any work on our part?

Are we expecting to sit in our sanctuaries and expect people to suddenly break down the doors to get in?

Are we expecting God to somehow bless us with Peace and no one else?

Peace is not the absence of conflict!

A closer examination reveals conflict while centered within our lives comes from many different sources. Within the framework of my own understanding I put them in two different categories – Relational Conflicts – Intimate Conflicts.

Relational Conflicts while personal come as we interact with others. Most of them overlap each other with only a fine line dividing them.

  • Coveting
  • Prejudice
  • Pride
  • Greed
  • Self-centeredness

Relational Conflicts while being internal are conflicts that erupt from our interactions with those around us stemming from a “me first you second” way of living. Relational Conflicts are dangerous because we they are so easy to justify especially when someone hurts us in anyway.

The biggest obstacle in dealing with Relational Conflicts is admitting they have power in our lives. Once we are able to look deep into our lives and see they do have power over our lives we are then in a position to begin the process of de-powering them. It is important that we see the weakening power Relational Conflicts have on us as power of the Holy Spirit increases.

Intimate Conflicts are those that can coexist with Peace yet will diminish its power upon our lives. They are ones that will become weaker and weaker as we deepen our relationship with Jesus.

Intimate Conflicts are conflicts centering in our own lives. Most of them overlap each other with only a fine line dividing them. Some even have their beginning in Relational Conflicts.

  • Fear
  • Helplessness
  • Hopelessness
  • Guilt
  • Sin

The more we come to understand our dependency on Jesus rather than ourselves, others around us, and the possessions we’ve accumulated the more we will experience Intimate Conflicts becoming Intimate Connections to Jesus Christ and his Gift of the Holy Spirit, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” (John 6:63 ESV, emphasis added)

Peace is the presence and power of the Holy Spirit!

With the Holy Spirit come the seeds containing everything you need to both experience Peace and be a spreader of Peace!

You need not seek a conflict free life!

The Seed has been planted!

Do not look for what you already have!

Acknowledge it!

Nurture it!

And most important TRUST and BELIEVE because where there is doubt the Spirit cannot reside in its fullness!

Peaceful people are a praying people!

Not prayer in the sense of asking for blessings – but prayer in the sense of being with God to soar on the Wings of the Spirit and fly to spiritual heights we’ve never imagined, to experience peace like we’ve never imagined!

When we pray the God of Peace comes to us and blesses us with his presence!

If we are expecting Peace to come in the form of dollars and cents, a beautifully decorated and comfortable sanctuary, big homes, professional careers, or in our personal accomplishments. I can assure you we will never find it! “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” (John 6:63 ESV, emphasis added)

Peace can only be found in the conflict of the cradle and cross and flows outward and upward from there! Once we make our way to the cradle and cross we can then prophetically see that:

  • God is Author of Peace.
  • Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace.
  • The Holy Spirit is the Supplier of Peace.

And from your vantage point at the cradle and cross you will be able to see… Peace is where you find it and because god is in everything peace is in everything as well – and peace is not the absence of conflict peace is the presence of god!

One closing thought God’ word for Peace is Shalom. Shalom is a Hebrew word for peace which denotes a sense of completion, perfection, of harmony between humankind and all of God’s creation. Because God is in and through all living things (including the earth) his greatest desire is we live not only in harmony with each other but in harmony with the animal kingdom, the plant kingdom, and the ecology of our planet.

Shalom!

Gary Piper


Scripture quotations marked ESV “Are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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