Summary: Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a world where there is no war, no fighting, no arguments, and no disputes of any kind? But God has a plan. God sent us a Prince of Peace.
This morning we look at Christmastime in terms of peace, and the “Prince of Peace” Himself.
In our world today, man seeks to establish peace, yet whatever successes he might seem to achieve are never permanent. Instead of achieving peace, man continually lives with chaos, confusion, and conflict. Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a world where there is no war, no fighting, no arguments, and no disputes of any kind? None of us can really fathom what a world like that would be – why? Because we have never experienced it or even anything close to it! People throughout the centuries have talked about peace; but, few, if any, have ever had an actual plan to bring peace to the world! But God has a plan. God has sent us a Prince of Peace. Isn’t it ironic that in the very place of the birth of Jesus there has almost always been conflict & war? When TV cameras take you to Bethlehem this Christmas season you will have to notice the armed soldiers who are watching over the crowds that gather to worship the Prince of Peace.
Here in America the term “peace” has been clearly connected with the absence of war. If there is no war – there is peace. However, the word that is used in the Old Testament for peace is “Shalom” and it means so much more than the absence of conflict. Shalom is indeed used to describe the end of hostilities, but the word itself also pictures health and wholeness. It denotes harmony and completeness. To have shalom is to have not only a quiet life but also to have a fulfilled life in every way.
When you have shalom there is no feeling of harm or hurt. When you have shalom you are in a state of ease and safety. There is no fearing whatsoever. There is no worry. There is a sense of harmony and oneness. You know your purpose and you have a sense of wholeness and completeness. Everything is exactly the way it should be. Nothing is out of order. Your inner world as well as the outer world is in harmony. This is shalom – this is the peace that Jesus brings for He is – Our Prince of Peace.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace and goodwill toward men.”
Good-will to men?" It is a beautiful message, but does God really expect us to take it seriously?
I believe that God does intend His teachings to be taken seriously. So He not only speaks the words, "Peace on earth, good will toward men," but He gives us the key to unlocking the door to peace so that we really can attain it.
What is that key? Listen to these words, "If your enemy is hungry give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, & the Lord will reward you."
If I asked you where to find those words in the Bible, some of you would say, "Jesus said them in the 5th chapter of Matthew." And I would give you partial credit for that because Jesus does say something similar when He tells us to love our enemies & to be good & kind to those who curse us.
Some of you might say, "Paul said them." And I would give you partial credit for that as well, because in the 12th chapter of Romans Paul quotes from this passage.
But the words I have just read are the words of Solomon recorded in Proverbs 25:21-22. "If your enemy is hungry give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, & the Lord will reward you."
Whether it is in the O.T. or in the New, God’s Word says that if there is going to be peace on earth then we, as God’s people, must learn to treat our enemies with love.
What about this idea, "love your enemies - feed them - care for them?" Are they just words? Words we think of only at Christmas time? Or are they words that can be used every day of our lives? Can we really love our enemies?
God seems to think that we can - but only when we realize the source & the example & the power of this love in our lives.
So we need to realize is that before there can be any peace we must recognize that the source of love is God Himself. "God is love." From His great heart comes this love that is for all.
In more than a few past wars, the warring nations would call a cease-fire for Christmas Day. They would agree that on Christmas Day they wouldn’t shoot at each other, drop bombs on each other, or try to destroy one another. Then, of course, the day after Christmas they would start killing each other again.