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Christmas Peace (pastor’s blog)

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. ~ 1 John 4:14

It doesn’t matter if you read the gospel, the first letter, or Revelation, in all of the apostle John’s writings you will find a global focus with the message of Christ. This is unquestionably one of the themes throughout all of Scripture, as well: God is Lord and King over all the earth and God is the Savior of the nations.

Earth globe Christmas ornament on treeGod’s global focus began all the way back in Genesis 1 when he told humanity’s parents to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). Even well after the fall, when God chose Abraham to be the father of a great nation, God’s love for the world was written into the story: “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (12:3).

This time of year, we celebrate Christmas, a day we have set aside to honor the birth of our Savior-King as glorious light in a dark and sin-broken world. Announcing his birth to shepherds, a host of heavenly beings rang out, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14).

Christ in the world was the declaration and fulfillment of God’s promises. Here is the source of blessing; here is the giver of peace.

The peace that Christ gives is both vertical and horizontal. Paul caught this reality well, as we see in Romans.

Therefore since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. … Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. ~ Romans 5:1, 9-10

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. ~ Romans 12:17-18

First, Jesus brings us peace with God. Our sin made us rebels and enemies. Our sin placed us in the camp of the great enemy, Satan, in a spiritual war which has been raging at least since Genesis 3. The life and sacrifice of Jesus justifies us from our sins through faith. It takes us from being enemies to being sons and daughters adopted into God’s family (Romans 8).

What a joy, not only to have our death sentence expunged, but to be brought into the home of and loved by the one we so pitifully warred against!

But when we come to have peace with God it means we are to pursue peace with others. “Live peaceably with all,” Paul said. And this peace is more than our cessation of aggression. True peace seeks for good towards even those who try to attack us (Romans 12:19-21).

John told us why this is so: God sent Jesus (born into this world) to be the Savior of the world.

Here we find the theology behind his vision in Revelation 7:9-10—“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number from every nation, from all tribes, and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”

It doesn’t matter our race, our ethnicity, our social background, our gender, our class, our orientations, or our age. Salvation is available to anyone who will hear the gospel message, let go of their life of sin, and cling to Jesus in faith. This is a promise to all, whether we live in the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, France, Iran, Nepal, Kenya, Afghanistan, China, or any other nation across the earth. This is a promise to all, whether we grew up going to church, to a synagogue, to a mosque, or spending Sunday mornings in bed. This is a promise to all whether we have tried to live a good life or whether we have breathed threats and violence against others.

This means, when we look around at the world—when we look at our neighbors, our coworkers, people on the streets, fellow students, or people on tv chanting death to America—we are to see others not as our enemies but as potential brothers and sisters in Christ, if only they will listen, repent, and believe.

We also are to see our lives as the means to share the hope of the gospel of Jesus and potentially see others in our world come to have peace with God and seek for peace among mankind.

As we celebrate Christmas, we should set our minds on the proper perspectives. Christmas is all about giving and receiving. God gave his Son for us; we receive the gift and gain new life, forgiveness, and freedom. As we have received, so we are to turn around and give ourselves that others might receive and know Jesus as the Lord and Savior of their lives.

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