Life Notes—December 5, 2013
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.” Matthew 10:34-36
“For a child has been born for us…and he is named…Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
Typically, my favorite part of Christmas is very late on Christmas Eve. Once the stores have finally closed, travelers have arrived at their destinations, and the worship services are over, my world becomes quiet. Everything seems to be in its proper place. Strands of Silent Night linger in the air, and the world is at peace. However, the world is never at peace. There is turmoil across the planet and across the street. For too many, there is strife across the room. In Isaiah, Jesus is named Prince of Peace; yet in Matthew, he claims not to have come to bring peace, but division. Father against son; daughter against mother; nation against nation. How do we reconcile the Prince of Peace described in Isaiah with the person of Jesus in Matthew? I believe the answer lies in our understanding of peace. Jesus invites us into a different kind of peace.
In war, peace comes when one side surrenders to the other. In business, peace often comes through consensus, where competing sides find a resolution that includes elements of importance to both. In families, peace may come by surrender or consensus. The peace of Jesus requires both. As individuals, we surrender to the positional and divine authority of Jesus. Referring to Jesus as Lord is an expression of our submission. As a community, peace will come through a consensus that respects, values, and includes the diversity of creation. All are created in the image of God, so none can be left behind.
In a war-like surrender, one side is beaten into submission. As individuals, we submit, or surrender to Jesus’ terms. Truly, the battle we wage is not against Jesus, but against our misunderstanding of his teachings. We cannot know peace without being in harmony with Christ. However, true peace goes well beyond the individual. Jesus’ words are a call to war—a war on injustice, exclusion, and suffering. We have the resources to eliminate much of what keeps our fellow man in bondage and our world from peace. But do we have the will to do so? Until we exercise that will, we will not find peace. True peace cannot come to any, until it comes to all. Until we follow Jesus’ command to love one another, Jesus’ words will divide us like a sword, and there will be no silent night.
This is the second Sunday of Advent. The theme is Peace. Tom will preach downtown, where Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall, and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary. Mitch will preach at the west campus, where contemporary worship is at 9 and 11.
Come home to church this Sunday. Contemplate the peace that passes understanding.
Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator