Every December, when the frigid air comes to rest in the valley, one of the tallest buildings in town transforms into a beacon of hope. It’s hard not to notice the grand red lights shining atop the structure. But no one is looking at the building, they’re staring at the message crafted by the simple string of lights. In giant block letters the words, ‘Peace on Earth’ beam down upon the city.
Most years this message is a delightful Christmas greeting amidst all the other holiday lights strung around town. This year, however, the sounds of the busy street below seem to mock the message. Roaring headlines of terror, war, and poverty seem to drown out any idea of peace. I was reading an online news article yesterday about the fires that are ravaging southern California right now. Out of curiosity I did something that I don’t normally do; I read the comment section. What I read absolutely broke my heart. There were no comments of sympathy, grief, or a care in the world for the people who were losing everything they had. Every comment I read was dripping with sarcasm, political jabs, and cynicism. I sat there disgusted by what I saw, all while the words Peace on Earth seemed to now taunt me as they floated over the city.
How did we get here? How did a message of hope turn into taunting? Maybe the real question I should be asking is simpler than that. Maybe the question I should be asking is, what is peace?
In Hebrew the word peace is שָׁלוֹם (shalom). Each of the four Hebrew letters that make up the word shalom have a specific definition that brings a captivating depth to the word. The first letter שָ means ‘destroy’. ל means ‘authority’, וֹ is a connector, and ם is ‘chaos’ or ‘overflowing cup’. So together peace is defined in Hebrew as “destroying authority connected to chaos”. How cool is that?
The question now is what or who is the authority of chaos? Consider a weed in your yard for a moment. A weed is never really gone until you rip it out by the roots. You can cut off the head, tear off the leaves, but until the roots are pulled out, that weed is still alive. There might be many people or things you consider an authority of chaos, but if we desire peace in our life, then its going to begin by recognizing the root of chaos.
God’s Word tells us that the authority of chaos is Satan. He is the thief who has come to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). He has no other desire than to mess things up and cause utter chaos for humanity. Satan doesn’t do that by making us spill coffee on clean clothes or cancelling our flight or getting our children to throw tantrums. He can certainly use those, but ultimately, he wants to distract us from the Peacemaker, Jesus.
When we are born, we are born into a world of brokenness and pain that is caused by the poison of sin in humanity. While we are capable of doing good, we are bound to sin. We are selfish, gossip, lie, cheat, steal, and so much more. No one is perfect, so we are bound to sin and the consequences that it brings. Satan loves it when we sin, because it creates chaos and drives us toward an eternity of chaos. But Jesus doesn’t want us to have to live in an eternity of chaos. He doesn’t want us to have to live without love, joy, and peace. So, God created an escape plan to break us out of the chains of sin. He sent Jesus to die on the cross, to accept that penalty of sin in our place. But He didn’t stay dead. Jesus rose again, He conquered the grave, thus freeing us from the bonds of sin. As a result, He offers us forgiveness, freedom, and peace.
For those who believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, we have received peace from the Enemy, Satan. Christ has destroyed the authority connected to chaos. We are no longer slaves to sin, but walk freely with the peace of Christ wrapped tightly around us. That doesn’t mean that life is perfect. We still spill coffee on our clean clothes. But there is a peace that surpasses all understanding that covers our lives. I know peace in my life because of Christ. There are anxieties and fears that are gone, because I know that I am loved by God. It is a peace that is available for everyone. If you don’t know Christ as your Savior, that peace is available to you, you just have to believe in Him (Romans 10:9).
For those who believe and walk with God, then you must ask yourself a question today. In the season of giving, how are you giving peace to others? God has blessed you with a peace that covers your eternity. This is not a gift that is meant to be withheld, but shared with others. When your brother or sister is grieving, how will you bring peace? When you are holding onto grudges or resentment, how will you bring peace? When you learn that someone does not know Christ, does not have the peace of God knowing that they are saved from their sins, how will you share God’s peace with them?
How will you make “Peace on Earth” a reality today?
Ephesians 2:13-16, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”