“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” -Luke 2:14
We see two important words often during the Christmas holiday: joy and peace. We see them on Christmas cards, and we sing them in songs. At Life Model Works, we talk a lot about the importance of joy in lives. Our brains were designed with joy in mind, and when our joy gets low, life doesn’t work well. However, in this article we are going to focus on the other important word: peace.
Jesus’ arrival on earth was meant to bring peace “on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:13). So peace comes from the presence and favor of Jesus. When we interact with Him during our day, His wisdom helps us see how the pieces of the grand cosmic puzzle make sense and fit together. Even when life doesn’t seem to make sense, Jesus’ perspective on life not making sense gives us peace.
We often mistake peace for the absence of pain where all distress is dissolved into a sea of tranquility. Peace is much bigger. We can be going through great suffering and still be peaceful, which means we continue to act like ourselves in the pain and we remain connected to God and our people. Just last night, I was leading an online training of a church in Polson, Montana. During the session, one woman shared that Jesus has been teaching her that peace can be found in the storms of life.
Jesus is our guide here. His life was full of difficulty involving strong emotions – sadness, anger, shame. Yet Jesus resided in peace. He kept acting like Jesus and he continued loving and instructing the people around Him. He continued trusting and interacting with his heavenly Father.
Jesus’ peace is different than the world’s concept of peace. Jesus warned his followers, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34). Instead of bringing a wave of tranquility over the world, Jesus’ life brought spiritual and physical upheaval. A murder plot was hatched against him as a small child, resulting in the execution of innocent children. Later he was betrayed by a close friend and rejected by most of His fellow Jews. He was executed by the Roman conquerors. The Roman empire unleashed a series of persecutions against the church. Most of His disciples were killed for being associated with Him. This doesn’t sound like what we think of as peace.
Anticipating this confusion, Jesus clarifies the meaning of peace to his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” The peace of Jesus comes from knowing and interacting with our shepherd, especially in the times when we feel ourselves sinking and life doesn’t make sense. It is precisely in these moments when Jesus offers love, understanding, wisdom and clarity about who he is and who we are. Peace comes from seeing all of life, including our own identities, through Jesus’ eyes. We, as members of His family, are a people who interact with Jesus about everything, and this is the path to peace.
Merry Christmas and may God’s peace be upon you.
Director of Life Model Consulting
 If you would like more information on the importance of joy for spiritual health, growth and wellbeing, take a look at chapter 3 of the The Other Half of Church (Wilder/Hendricks), The Joy Switch (Coursey) and for an exhaustive treatment, Joy Starts Here (Wilder, Khouri, Coursey and Sutton).