Read John 14:27
The sky lit up and the sound of a choir filled the night, saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased” (Luke 2:14)! The night Jesus was born, angels declared a coming peace. This child would bring peace on earth and goodwill to men. Fast forward to Jesus’ adulthood and the words his dear friend John records for us in John 14: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you” (John 14:27). Again, there is a beautiful promise of peace Jesus offers. This sounds beautiful, but when we look at the world around us, it can sometimes seem like wishful thinking. This past year, we have heard of devastating storms, high school students taking their own lives, and mindless mass shootings. Where is the peace?
It may soften the doubts if we remember the tumultuous time in which Jesus made this promise. For multiple chapters, Jesus has been preparing his disciples for his ensuing arrest, beating, and ultimate death. Even in this little verse is the potential for troubled hearts. The peace of Jesus is not a promise that all circumstances will be without conflict, pain, and loss. The peace of Jesus is the promise of internal stability in the midst of storms. Jesus tells his disciples that he will remain with them through the Holy Spirit. In essence, he’s promising to give them unshakable peace that transcends life circumstances.
The question for us, then, is, “How do we enjoy that peace?” In the mindset of his comforting words, Jesus gives his followers a command. The command is to love like he loved. Those who love experience the transcendent peace Jesus offers. We don’t follow the commands of Jesus to “earn” peace. Rather, peace is evident and experienced by those who walk like Jesus walked, by those who feel the way Jesus feels with his heart.
Let’s take the hackneyed Christmas wish of “peace on earth” (which came from Scripture, by the way). If all of God’s people around the world were to truly love God and people like Jesus, ‘peace on earth’ would not be so unthinkable. We can’t control others’ willingness to walk in love, but we can still experience the offer of peace when we choose to love regardless of what others choose. So, peace is on the table for the taking. By stepping into the way of love, we step into the way of peace.
Reflection and Response
Consider the first time you stepped into the way of love through Christ. Did you experience peace? Consider other times when you directly avoided or completely disregarded love. Did you experience peace then? As you’re anticipating the new year, make a plan for how you might intentionally and proactively step into the way of love — and thus step into the way of peace — this year.
By Aaron Bjorklund