Are we there yet? Is there peace on earth? It seems not. Editorials and the blogosphere are buzzing today with debate about closing the American borders to Muslim immigrants while politicians sort out a reliable vetting process for displaced refugees who desperately need an open door to a place they can call home. The concern, of course, is terrorism. Some would frame this debate as compassion versus fear. Others would frame it as security versus infiltration. Either way, it doesn’t reflect peace on earth this Christmas.
Terrorism may dominate the news these days, but it’s not the only obstacle to peace on earth. If we’re ever going to experience peace on earth, we must succeed in four areas:
- World peace, which addresses ideological or random violence targeted against strangers, especially nation versus nation
- Local peace, which addresses relational dissonance orchestrated against family or neighbors, especially person versus person
- Inner peace, which addresses unsettled brokenness within from remorse, anxiety and fear, primarily self versus problems
- Spiritual peace, which addresses the silent emptiness from heaven, the gap between people and God
The fourth area can be a stumbling block to some because it seems to many people that God (if he even exists) is indifference to the world situation. At least, God seems slow to bring about peace on earth.
Breaking that silence comes the angelic proclamation at Christmas: “Glory to God in the highest! And on earth peace, goodwill to men.” (Luke 2:14)
Just before Jesus died, he promised peace to his followers: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” (John 14:27)
The world offers peace by striving first for world peace, then working toward local peace and possibly inner peace. Spiritual peace isn’t even in the equation. It’s optional at best and is subjugated by a pluralistic culture.
Jesus offers peace by beginning with spiritual peace. Everything else grows from that. Spiritual peace produces inner peace, which produces local peace. World peace isn’t even in the equation. It won’t be fully established until the coming of Christ’s kingdom on earth.
Jesus’ life was sandwich by peace. His birth was heralded with a proclamation of peace. His death was accompanied with a promise of peace.
It begins with spiritual peace–peace with God. We need that peace more than ever this Christmas.