No, this is not a continuation article of my World War III series. I concluded that last week. You can read all past articles on my web site: http://rootspressure.blogspot.com. Instead, I am writing about Christmas.
What does war and peace have to do with Christmas? Good question! Stay with me and let’s see if we can put this conundrum together.
On the Christian Calendar there is what is called Advent Season. This refers to the time when God visited the earth in the person of his son, Jesus. Specifically, it means the coming of Christ. The four Sundays leading to Christmas typically address four characteristics associated with God: Love, Joy, Hope, and Peace.
This past Sunday I was preaching on Peace. It is amazing how many times the term “peace” is used throughout the Bible. With few exceptions, the term normally is in reference to us and our relationship to God.
So let me ask you, “What is your relationship to God?”
Assuming the existence of God (something the Bible does in the very first verse), we quickly see that mankind was created to have a personal, intimate relationship with this Creator God. Why does the Bible assume the existence of God? Because since God made us, we naturally respond to him. To do otherwise is to go against the very reason for your existence.
Since a relationship such as we are invited to have with God is close and personal, we can only enjoy the relationship as long as it is entirely voluntary! If God were to force us into this relationship even a little bit, we would rebel and withdraw. Love cannot be forced. It must be voluntary. This allows both parties to relax and love each other.
Before I lose the men here, let me explain that the love that the Bible refers to is not the mushy, gooey love so often associated with romantic love. That’s all well and good and has its place in any relationship, but love for God is 1) based upon respect for who God is, 2) acknowledging his attributes, usually the big three: All Powerful, All Knowing, and Ever Present, and 3) Accepting that he loves us despite our fallen, debased, craven, sinful nature. This third part is a mystery, to be sure!
There’s the rub! Even though we know we have sinned against God, he declares his love for us anyway. Go figure! Part of the mystery is why? Why would he love me when I couldn’t have cared less about him at one period in my life?
Allow me to try and answer that. God loves you because you are just like him. He made you that way. You can’t change it. Just as any parent sees themselves in their child, God sees himself in us. The problem is, sin has marred and distorted that image of God. In our sinful condition, we are at war with God, we push him away because we know we’re not worthy of his love.
Well, since I can’t change my sin nature, and if it’s going to be changed at all, God is the only one who can do it. He makes this happen by coming into the world as one of us. That’s Jesus! He came as a baby and lived as we live. As an adult he walked among us, showing us in person the love of the Father. This was no more evident than when Jesus went to the cross. It was there that the war between us and God was fought and won. Jesus, the son of God, paid the price for our sin. This opened up the way for us to have a new relationship with God.
As a man, Jesus did not come to threaten us with damnation. He did not come to dazzle us with his superior knowledge. He did not come to cause us to be awe-struck by his miraculous deeds. He did not come to chasten us for our sinful behavior. He came to demonstrate the most powerful force in the universe. Nothing can defeat this force. Nothing can shake it. Nothing can compare to it. That force is love – God’s love.
Because of God’s love, Jesus, the son of God, came to offer us peace with God. That peace is available when we accept, by faith, the work of God’s love and forgiveness. It’s all wrapped up in the person of Jesus Christ. This is the message the angels gave to the shepherds the night Christ was born: “Peace on earth, good will toward men.”
We no longer need to be at war with God. He offers us his peace.
And once you are at peace with God, you can be at peace with others.
And that’s why we say, Merry Christmas!
[Allow me to suggest a last-minute Christmas gift idea. There are two books that are absolutely “must read” material and they are in sequel format. The first is, “Dinner with a Perfect Stranger,” and the second is, “A Day with a Perfect Stranger.” The author is David Gregory. They run about $13.00/ea at you local Christian Bookstore, or Christine’s Little Bookstore in Ripon]