Peace on earth.
The angelic promise of peace and good will is the theme of countless Christmas cards, carols, sermons, hopes and prayers.
Everyone says they want it. Yet the dream of world-wide peace seems as far off as ever.
Over the past few days, I’ve had occasion to reflect on the fragility and imperfection of human relationships. Most of us prefer harmony to conflict, but genuine harmony can be elusively difficult to attain.
As I lay in bed this morning pondering this mystery, I saw in my spirit a picture of Jesus approaching a fortified tower.
The tower was crumbling as its lonely, embattled inhabitant struggled to maintain the illusion of control. Jesus was approaching with far superior power, supremely confident in his victory. He had the ability to destroy the fortified tower in an instant. Yet he held in his hands an offer of peace.
The vision was open-ended. It was like one of those stories where you get to make up your own ending. Would the man in the tower come out from behind his crumbling defenses, lay down his useless weapons, and accept the offer of peace? Or would he continue to try to shore up his once-proud tower, maintain his brittle independence to the bitter end, and die a violent, useless, unnecessary death?
The man in the tower is every one of us.
To a world where strife is a constant, Jesus does offer peace – but that peace carries a price tag. For many, the price is more than they are willing to pay.
The price is surrender.
Surrender of our pride, our fears, our independence, our superiority, and our judgments.
Surrender to His Lordship, His mercy, His kindness, His inevitable victory.
For all who will accept the offer to lay down their weapons, there are two rewards. One is immediate, the other comes later.
The immediate reward is that we get invited into God’s training school. Life with Jesus in this age is a process of preparation, as we allow our bridegroom to woo our hearts, take us by the hand and teach us how to love. He is preparing His beloved ones for the Age to Come, when the promise of world wide peace will finally be fulfilled.
The ultimate reward is far more glorious than we can imagine. Instead of the futile little tower of independence and pride that we once left behind, we will have a place of honour in His Kingdom, in a restored world where there is no more war, pain or death.
One day, he will come in great power to establish that Kingdom openly on the earth. On that Day, there will be no more opportunity to surrender.
But today, He is waiting, calling, pleading, inviting. This is the day of salvation, of invitation, of mercy. Today, He is calling us to come out from our futile towers of independence and pride and fear. Today, He is calling us to let Him teach us the ways of His goodness and mercy and truth.
This is the peace that Bethlehem’s child offers.
Immanuel – God with us.
If you hear his voice, will you lay down your weapons? Will you let Him lead you into the way of peace?
The wolf will lie down with the lamb, and a little child shall lead them.