As I was reading and thinking about the Christmas stories, I thought about the phrase, ‘peace on earth’. It makes me think of an old U2 song by that name. The song is a reflection on a bombing in Northern Ireland and how that relates to the idea of ‘Peace on earth’. The song asks, ‘So what’s it worth, this peace on earth?’
The last blog looked at the difference between saving from circumstances and saving from sin. The problem with the song’s premise is that it falls into the save from circumstances idea. The peace that was coming was not an absence of war. In fact, about 70 years after Jesus’ birth Jerusalem was flattened by the Romans in a terrible war against the Jews.
So what is meant by peace? In John’s gospel, in Jesus’ last talks before he goes to the Christ, he discusses peace a couple of time. In John 14:27, he says he leaves his peace, which is not what the world calls peace, but a peaceful heart. Later in John 16:33 Jesus contrasts between his peace and the troubles people will have in the world. Their circumstances won’t be peaceful but their hearts will.
Perhaps the best example of this is Job. In the book of Job, Job losses everything – his wealth, his family and then finally his health. Understandable he gets angry with God. He wants to have it out with God and much of the book is Job and his friends discussing whether or not Job deserved what happened to him.
Then God shows up. God doesn’t answer any of Job’s questions. Rather he speaks of his own character. The encounter with God settles Job’s heart. He now has peace. At first his circumstances don’t change, but his heart has.
What does it mean that Jesus saves us from our sins? One simple way of understanding it is that it means that we can have that encounter with God and settle our hearts.