Peace is a Path
Christmas is the season of peace, or at least we hope it is. There’s a desire for world peace, yet our differences so easily divide us. We sing “sleep in heavenly peace,” but our world seems to have more fear and anxiety and less tranquility. Somehow the most wonderful time of the year can very quickly become the most stressful time of the year. Like you, I desire inner peace, but the pressure and uncertainty of life can often overshadow it. As we continue our Advent journey, I’m asking the question: How can we experience this heavenly peace on earth?
“Peace on earth” is one of those cherished sentiments that comes a bit more front and center around Christmas. The phrase is inspired by scripture as part of the greatest birth announcement from the Nativity account in the Gospel of Luke. “Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth good will to all'” (Luke 2:13-14).
Despite being a familiar concept, peace on earth is easily misunderstood even among people of faith. Stubby Sztersky explains the misconception: “To most minds, the absence of peace is a horizontal problem. It’s the result of people not getting along with other people, either at an individual or a societal level. If we could just break down the barriers of selfishness and strife between people, then we’d achieve peace.”
However, the problem of peace does not begin with a horizontal reconciliation with one another, but a vertical reconciliation between God and humanity. Before Jesus was born, Luke’s Gospel account records this purpose for his coming. “Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace” (Luke 1:78-79).
Peace is a path. Heavenly peace is God’s gift to us on earth. It is not a place to arrive but a path to walk.
Consider the experience of hiking on a trail in an unknown territory at night. And then somehow you veer off the marked trail and become lost. A select few individuals may see that as a fun adventure, but being lost is stressful for most of us. Now imagine the relief you would experience when you discover you’re back on the trail. Even if you can’t see the path’s final destination, being able to see your feet take one step at a time gives confidence that you’re heading in the right direction. The path brings peace.
Jesus is the light to the world, and he gives his light to guide us to the path of peace. If we look for peace to come from our preferred outcomes, what happens when those outcomes don’t occur? If our peace is determined by a full bank account, friendships, or right circumstances, then our peace can also be taken away by those things. But if we find a peace that is not from this world, then no one and no thing from this world can take it away.
Before he went to the cross, Jesus said, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27).
Imagine if you could finish out this year by experiencing peace of mind and heart. Imagine not being troubled or afraid by the uncertainty of life. It’s possible because it’s the path to walk made possible through Jesus.
If you are in need of this inner peace, take a moment today to pause and pray and ask God to shine a light on his path of peace. If you need to talk to a pastor, we’d love to connect with you. Text us at 717-366-7226 to talk with a pastor.