Christmas time always brings up interesting observations and discussions. Earlier this week we were at a braai (barbeque) discussing the pagan customs surrounding Christmas and whether or not Christians should bring these into their homes. We also looked at whether or not we should introduce our children to them, or what we should teach our children. That I’ll leave for another time, but now I want to write down a few thoughts that came to me about Christmas during a school concert yesterday afternoon.
The first half of the concert was meant to be all about Christmas. Now this makes sense, since it was held by a Christian school. The strange thing was that the head staff member never actually mentioned Christ, even when introducing Christian pieces. Instead, emphasis was placed on reflecting about the sad state the world is in and returning it to when it was a better place.
I must admit I giggled. When it was a better place? I am currently writing a Bible overview story book for children with a friend. This has us looking over the history of the world. I sat in the school hall, dumbstruck to think of a time when the human race was in a better place. Did he want me to consider when Cain killed his brother Abel? They were, after all, the first children on earth! Perhaps he wanted us to think about when the kind Assyrians were the ruling empire on earth. Did I say kind? I meant one of the cruellest in history.
Now I know I’m being a little over the top. I also know that this isn’t what he intended – he had the good intension of making us think about the ill in the world now and growing a desire for world peace in our hearts. But when he mentioned world peace, I must admit that I half giggled again. The other part of my face was slightly distorted in horror.
World peace? I pray for peace in the nations, I really do. I also pray for governments and for individuals. But I also know enough to know that what this man was asking was impossible – peace here and now due to the choices of mankind? Still no mention of Christ? The world is in the state it is in because of man.
The reason for the half giggle was that I suddenly saw a correlation between what he was saying and what the Jews at the time of Christ desired. Okay, so most of the Jews wanted a military ruler who would defeat Rome, but they also wanted a military, royal ruler who would establish peace and self-rule for their nation. Today it seems that what people are hoping for is still the same as it was back in Christ’s time – a Saviour in the physical.
Christ came to the world to save mankind from our brokenness. But the work He did was spiritual. We are promised a new heaven and a new earth at His Second Coming, but not before it. We are promised peace, but again with His Second Coming. In the meantime, He warned us that there would be wars and strife.
I don’t want to be a downer at Christmas, but I do want to recall the truth of Christmas:
- Christ, Immanuel, came to us. Immanuel – what a beautiful name, meaning “God with us”.
- Christ did not come as a conquering, physical king. His birth was surrounded by scandal. He was poor. His ministry only lasted three years. He was rejected by His home town, but never travelled far from it. And in the end? He died the death of a common criminal, on the cross.
- And yet . . . He rose again, because He was perfect. He died and rose to fulfil the Father’s will. He came to save mankind from their sin, and restore us to relationship with Him. He came to establish an eternal kingdom of peace and righteousness.
Let us hold on to the truth of Christ’s peace and the hope we have, rather than reverting back to the hopes of the Jews in Christ’s time. There will be a time of peace, but the peace we have now is the spiritual peace that Christ puts into the heart of believers. For now, we celebrate the spiritual peace Christ brought, and the eternal peace we have hope for when we trust in Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Christ is the true peace bringer. He is the Prince of Peace
- For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. (Isaiah 9:6-7).
Christ left us with His peace whilst we await His return!
- “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:25 -27)
We have peace through our faith in Christ! This peace remains even in the midst of worldly troubles.
- Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)
Hold on to your faith, because Christ will come again to save those who are faithful! Do not be turned away from Him when you see wars.
- “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
- And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. (Matthew 24:4-8)
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. (Matthew 24:9-12)
“But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:13-14)
A kingdom of peace is coming! Christ is bringing it, and it is eternal!
- And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5)
And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:6-8)