What do Christmas and war have to do with one another?
We don’t live in a peaceful world do we? Every day we see evidence of hostility, hate, war, and animosity on the news and in our own lives. There is no part of our lives untouched by hostility. Our world is not and never has been truly at peace. War is stifled in one place only to reappear in another. We experience strife, enmity, and hostility in our own lives in a very personal way too. I’m sure you can think of a handful people right off the top of your head with whom you would say you are not at peace – maybe a coworker or a boss, a sibling or a parent, a friend or even a spouse. Our world is at war.
The Bible tells us that we are at war with one another – that mankind is constantly engaged in hostility and hate driven battle with one another. But the Bible also teaches that there is a greater battle going on – mankind’s war with God.
But what does this have to do with Christmas?
Christmas is all about Jesus, the Son of God, entering into our world as one of us, a human, to be Immanuel (God with us), to live the perfect live, die the perfect death, and be resurrected so that we can share in his new life. Christmas reminds just how far God, who is incredibly loving and unfathomably merciful, went in order to be with us, to make us right with him, to bring us peace.
Isaiah 9:6 calls Jesus the “prince of peace” and when the angels appeared to the shepherds on the first Christmas 2,000 years ago, they said, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” Jesus came into our world in order to establish peace where there was only war and hostility. He came to befriend his enemies, to bring his enemies into his own kingdom and family. He came to establish peace between all people.
Based on the truths of Ephesians 2, here are some basic biblical truths about Jesus our peace to dwell on as we approach Christmas:
1. Without Jesus, we remain dead in our sin as enemies of God.
Our natural state as human beings is one of conformity with the world and the devil and opposition to God. Every single person spends their whole life and strength devoted to following themselves, their desires, and their passions – which go directly in the opposite direction of where God wants people to go. By ourselves, we remain enemies of God – not just neutrally indifferent, but directly opposed to him. Because of this, the end result of our lives spent warring with God is ultimately destruction and death.
2. Because of Jesus, we can now have peace with God.
Life without Christ is still one of conformity with evil. But because Jesus came to the world as a baby and eventually died on the cross in our place, bearing the judgment that all enemies of God must bear, we can have peace with God. All the judgment that God’s enemies are supposed to face was faced by Jesus on the cross on our behalf. What incredible mercy, love, and grace – that God himself would die so that we could have peace with him.
3. Because of Jesus, we can now live the way God wants us to.
In our natural state of enmity with God, we could never live as we were supposed to. We only had eyes for ourselves and so we lived in conformity with evil. But now, because Jesus brought us peace with God, we can now live the lives of holiness and Godliness that he always wanted us to live. Because God made us right with him, we can now live good and pleasing lives to him, no longer living for ourselves, but for him.
4. Because of Jesus, we can now have peace with one another.
Jesus didn’t only bring us peace with God, but peace with one another. When people are made right with God, they become united in their life in Christ as one. People who used to hate each other or be at odds with one another can now be united together with Jesus. He modeled on the cross how to achieve peace with an enemy – by laying down oneself for the sake of peace with another. Where there is enmity in your life, with a co-worker, friend, sibling, parent, spouse, or anyone else – peace with them can only be achieved if one or both parties are willing to live the way God wants us to, by laying down our pride, anger, and unforgiveness for the sake of bringing peace and relational harmony. Because of what Jesus did for us and modeled for us, we can have peace with one another.
5. Jesus killed hostility so that we could have peace with him and one another.
This is a summary truth – both of this article and of the gospel message in the Bible. Jesus tore down all hate, animosity, anger, malice, unforgiveness, hostility, war, strife, division, etc. When he died on the cross and laid himself down so that we could have relational rightness with God, all of those evils died with him and stayed dead. But Jesus didn’t stay dead. He came back to life, leaving all the barriers to relational harmony in the grave. Now, because of Christmas and because of the shed blood of Christ, we can experience peace with God and peace with one another.
What a joy it is to remember at Christmas time just how awful our lives would be if Jesus never came – if he never entered our world – if he never died on the cross – if he never brought us peace.
But he has. Perfect peace. Spend this Christmas season captivated by the love of God displayed to us through Jesus Christ.