One of the names Isaiah gives to the Messiah is “Prince of Peace”. But do we really believe that? I mean, do we really believe that Jesus brought and initiated peace? Isaiah was certainly talking about Jesus’ first coming, not his second. It’s found in the famous “For unto us a child is born” passage in Isaiah 9. But do we believe Isaiah? Did Jesus really bring peace?
Let me ask you this: is the world peaceful? That’s one we don’t have to think about too long, isn’t it? The world is definitely not peaceful. Here’s the hard question: Why isn’t the world peaceful? Depending on your viewpoint, there are many answers. The world’s not peaceful because of those violent Muslim extremists or those violent Christian extremists. The world’s not peaceful because of those right-wing extremists or those left-wing extremists. The world’s not peaceful because…
Here’s the harsh truth: the world’s not peaceful because I’M not peaceful. The world is not peaceful because we Christians don’t hold ourselves and our Christian friends and neighbors to Christ-like peace. The world’s not peaceful because I’M not peaceful.
So here’s our last practice for Christmas: practice peace. Now, I can almost hear the objections now. “I’ve never killed anyone.” “I’m not a violent person.” But there is so much more to peace than physical violence. It certainly includes that, so I don’t mean to downplay that and simply “spiritualize” the word “peace” as a metaphor until it has no meaning left. Peace definitely includes lack of physical violence. But there is more to it than that. When we gossip about someone else, that is antithetical to peace. Why? Because gossiping arises from the same core as violence—a core of jealousy, uncaring, and a sense of “I’m-better-than-you”. When was the last time you yelled at someone? That’s not practicing peace, is it?
Practicing peace isn’t easy. It will take creativity, and frankly, sometimes it will seem to make no sense. I mean, no 1st century Jew would’ve imagined that the Messiah, the Promised King who everyone thought would overthrow the Romans, would die. Yes, God raised him again on Sunday, in all of God’s creativity, but still, it looked pretty grim and pointless and senseless on Friday and Saturday. So I challenge you this Advent week—practice peace. Not because it makes sense, not because it’s easy, maybe not even because it seems practical, but because we call ourselves followers of the Prince of Peace. Are you up for the challenge?