It’s early morning and you just finish pouring your cup of coffee when you get five texts from work saying the due date for your project has been moved up a week. As you try to hastily respond, you get a recorded call saying your student has four missing assignments in math class. So, you change gears and go to wake up your child to get them ready for school and find out about the assignments when you notice a permanent marker was left on the couch without a cap and it has created a beautiful new pattern of black marks all over it. As you grab the marker, you hear your phone going off with more texts and phone calls. As your blood begins to boil, you decide you really need that coffee before you go any further. But as you get to the kitchen in the midst of the phone ringing and your child yelling for you, you see the cat has knocked your coffee mug over and is licking it up off the counter. That’s when you lean your head back and scream, “All I want is some peace and quiet!”
As we celebrate the Advent season, peace is probably one of the hardest of the four themes* to understand in today’s climate. In fact, if I asked you to look back at this past year, peace would probably not be one of the top descriptive words to come to mind. In fact, with a culture that increasingly promotes the idea that if someone doesn’t think and believe the way you do is your enemy, it’s easy to see how the earthly idea of peace is further out of reach. But that is why peace is such an important thing to celebrate as we anticipate Christmas, the birth of our savior.
Most people, when asked what peace is, would probably say that it means an end of violence and eradication of hate. While that is definitely a byproduct of peace, God’s true offering of peace goes way deeper and is much easier to obtain. In fact, the word peace appears around 350 times in the Bible. While many of these verses talk about God’s plan of peace, there is only one person who is the Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Shalom: Peace Unto You
The word peace used here is the Hebrew word shalom. This word for peace goes beyond our definition of non-violence and escaping the stresses of life. It’s meaning is more wholistic as it points to things being as they should be and complete.
This is why the peace that we receive through the advent of our savior Jesus is so important. It is personal peace that can bring wholeness and restoration with God through the gift of his Son. By giving our lives to God and becoming followers of his way, he not only breaks the barrier of sin that separates us but also fills us with the Holy Spirit that we may be whole. Shalom!
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1 ESV).
But God’s peace doesn’t stop there. It’s also an external peace we can have with others as we have the honor of being the hands and feet of God and sharing this gospel with the world. When we live out the great commission and let God restore a broken world back to himself, we are ambassadors of shalom.
"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV).
So, when you are having a day this Christmas season where you just want to lean your head back and scream, All I want is some peace and quiet, remember that it is through the wholeness of God’s peace that we are able to find true rest. Ending violence and erasing hate are wonderful goals, but outside of God, they will never happen. He desires for us to have a peace that goes beyond understanding and he has provided a way for us to experience it. All we have to do is trust in the Prince of Peace that came as a baby, born in a stable.
* The Advent season begins four weeks before Christmas and is a time for us to prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus: his birth at Christmas and again at the end of this age. Each week of Advent has a traditional theme: hope, peace, love, and joy.