John Lennon’s song, ‘Give peace a chance’, became a social anthem in its day because of its simplicity and relevance.
Born out of the Vietnam era, this song was a response to the tensions that were at an all-time high, in a world that was ripe for revolution.
At that point, the idea of ‘giving peace a chance’ seemed so simple, so real and so reachable. Just a chance! That’s all it needs…
It seems that history has come full circle once more. The wars raging around us are plunging us again into social unrest. Fissures of fear and suspicion are widening everywhere we turn. The world is bleeding out, literally and metaphorically, and if we would just give peace a chance, surely the wound could heal. Right?
So why is it so hard for us to live in peace? How have we come to this place again so quickly? Why haven’t all our advances in technology improved our ability to live in harmony? The incredible wealth of knowledge we’ve attained since the last world conflict hasn’t prevented us from descending into the chaos of war one bit. Cozy phrases like ‘global village’ haven’t restrained us from obliterating our neighbors in a hail of gunfire and missiles.
As much as I appreciate John’s intentions, he naively assumed that we could do what no preceding generation had ever done; just ‘muster up’ the will to live in peace.
If living in peace was no more than just making a determined decision to do so, I suspect the world would’ve achieved that goal long ago. The fact that John died tragically at the hands of a deranged gunman proves that peace requires a collective effort, not just an individual commitment. And that is where our problem, as well as our hope, lies.
The Bible teaches that war, violence and oppression, along with every other human failure, are ultimately the symptoms of sin. Sin, originally an archery term, meaning “to miss the target or bullseye”, speaks volumes about itself. The Bible states that, categorically, all humanity has ‘sinned and fallen short of God’s glory’ (Romans 2:23) So if God’s glory, His infinite eternal perfections, are the ‘target’, then you and I have all ‘sinned’, we’ve all missed, or ‘fallen short’ of it. Not just by a little, but a lot.
One of the first and greatest casualties of sin is peace. How can we know peace when we’re living outside the design of our Creator? We can’t; we can’t have peace with God and we can’t have peace with one another. Not when we’ve collectively declared we will do life ‘our way’ instead of His way. The Bible says all men are ‘created in the image of God’. When we’ve rejected that truth, that God is the Father of us all, in preference to the theory that our past, present and future are the result of mindless evolutionary processes, we can never find the common ground necessary to live at peace with each other. That fact that we can send ultra-complex telescopes into deep space, but can’t clean up the choking pollution in our own planet, highlights the potential as well as the depravity of mankind.
There is hope though.
One of the most beautiful aspects of the Christmas story, which the Christian church celebrates this month, is its message of peace.
The birth of Jesus Christ is, at its core, the pronouncement by God that he offers peace to the world through His Son.
Consider what Luke records in his Gospel, when Angels declare to the shepherds outside of Bethlehem, that the long-awaited Messiah, or Saviour, has been born.
Luke 2:13 “Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others praising God and saying,“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those on whom His favor rests.”
These angelic messengers declare that the coming of Jesus, God’s only Son, is no less than a ‘peace treaty’ offered by God to a world at war with Him. Again, Luke writes, “Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
Notice that it’s ‘good news’ of ‘great joy’ for ‘all people’. Jesus’ arrival wasn’t only good news for the Jews, it was good news for the whole world. Why? Because He came to save us from our sins through His sacrificial death on the cross. As the book of Revelations states, Jesus “loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (1:5). It is through Christ’s atoning work on the cross that we are restored, made right, with our God and Creator. Again, it is written in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have PEACE with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”
Through faith in Jesus Christ God restores the peace we were designed to enjoy with Him. It is ‘the peace of God, which transcends all understanding’ (Philippians 4:7) To those who believe and receive Christ as their Lord, this peace ‘guards our hearts and minds’ in every and all situations. Even in the chaos that envelopes our world today
The Christmas story is the story of peace; God’s peace in the hearts His people.
Isaiah the prophet famously wrote “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given…and His name will be called … Prince of Peace.”
His peace is a peace that will finally champion the whole earth when Jesus returns again to set up His Kingdom and restore God’s original design for creation at the end of the age.
Do you long for peace in your life? A peace that isn’t dictated by your circumstances, but comes from within? Do you want peace with God? Jesus said “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Will you accept the conditions of peace that God has offered today? The New Testament states, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
Repent of your sins, lay hold of God’s gift of forgiveness through Christ, be reconciled to Him and receive the power to live a new life through His Spirt.
Will you truly give peace a chance? His name is Jesus…
By Pastor Tim Mattox
Paphos Calvary Chapel