Summary: Peace means to be in the midst of chaos and still be calm in your heart. If we aren’t at peace, is this from our choices or has our peace been stolen?
Peace: Fruit of the Spirit and Advent #2
Gal 5:13-26; December 4, 2004
There once was a King who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The King looked at all the pictures, but there were only two he really liked and he had to choose between them. One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror for peaceful towering mountains that were all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.
The other picture had mountains too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky from which rain fell, and in which lightening played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all. But when the King looked, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest ........... perfect peace.
The King chose the second picture. Do you know why? "Because," explained the King, "peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace."
Today is the second week in Advent, where we focus our attention on the theme of peace. Peace is also the third character quality that Paul lists in Gal 5, in the passage of Scripture where we have a list of the characteristics that God desires to produce in us as we allow the Holy Spirit to be in control of our lives.
Wouldn’t it be great to really be at peace? To close your eyes and be alone with your heart and feel not scattered, not hectic, not hurried, not stretched – but rather to feel calm, to feel solid, to feel centered, to feel that “it is well”. Wouldn’t it be great to wake up in the morning and smile, welcoming the day ahead because deep in your soul you are at peace with yourself and your life. Wouldn’t it be great to have something difficult or painful come hurtling toward you and be able to react – not with panic or fear but with a calm assurance that whatever the problem, you know God is going to walk with you through it and even bring good out of it. Wouldn’t it be great to really, truly, honestly be at peace.
That is the peace that Jesus came to bring. That is what God promises will be our experience if we will walk with Jesus and allow Him to be our Saviour and the Lord of our lives. Doesn’t that sound good?
Talking about peace at Christmas seems like a good idea, but then it starts to seem really out of place with what is actually happening. Celebrating Jesus’ birth has turned into such a big, busy, hectic deal that it seems like the concept of peace is about as far from reality as we can possibly imagine. So much to do, so many things to buy and bake and be a part of. If we look around, it isn’t peace we see, but frantic, stressed out, overburdened people rushing around everywhere, creating conflict as they strive for some ideal version of the holiday. Peace? Nice idea; certainly not a part of most of our lives during the Christmas season.
I recognize that isn’t true for all of us, but for those of us for whom it is true, how do we reconcile this simple fact: Paul tells us that when we live by the Spirit, God produces peace in us. Jesus came to bring peace, but in this season of celebrating Jesus’ birth peace seems like a long way off.
It is almost ironic that Jesus chose to enter the world without fanfare, without extensive preparation, without any of the trappings that we would expect to accompany a royal visit. And yet today the fanfare, extensive preparation, and all the trappings threaten to overwhelm the basic truth: Jesus came to earth. God became human. A baby boy, born to an unwed mother in an obscure village and laid in an animal feeding trough, is the King of the Universe. God with us, to save us, forgive us, love us, and bring us peace.
Do you want that peace? An end to the painful, stressful, hectic uncertainty?? The only place we will find it is through Jesus, the child in the manger who would grow into the man who died on the cross.