11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—
12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
— Ephesians 2:11–16 (ESV)
This world is anything but peaceful. If I just mention some themes that we have faced this year, such as: Afghanistan, politics, government mandates, COVID-19, divorce, or suicide rates, it doesn’t take long to think of how these things have personally affected us. It has been a rough year, and there seems to be no end in sight. And as we enter into the Christmas season, we are reminded of themes like “peace on earth” and “goodwill to men”.
Have you thought of how we could possibly conjure up the idea of peace this Christmas season? It seems that it takes so much more work and effort to try and force peace into our lives that it actually adds more chaos to our already chaotic lives! Perhaps these are good reminders of our condition and how we desperately need an ultimate peacemaker.
We work hard to impart peace to one another. But, in and of ourselves, we can’t. We have selfish, divisive desires that often override our good intentions and create more conflict with God and the world. Paul reminds us of this in order to help us settle down, rest, and cling to the one who has sealed our peace.
At one time, all men were wayward and alienated strangers to the promises of God. This did nothing for them except to produce the cyclical unhopefulness of angst and selfishness, trying to grasp some idea of peace that inevitably caused the imposition of “peace” upon each other. They could not achieve perfect peace, and this has been known since the beginning of time, from Adam to our present day. We are a people without true peace and without true hope.
But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Jesus comes and imposes his peace upon us! How? By paying the price for our unpeaceful actions of sin, taking what we deserved from God — separation from him — and bringing us near as ones who are reconciled and made right with him.
This is our peace. And this serves as a reminder that while we may not have ultimate peace right now in this world, we get to practice living under the promise of God, Jesus himself, who graciously imposed his peace upon our hearts and gives us the courage to share the peace of God with all men.
The Christmas season is chaotic. It just is. But, we can be reminded (as seasons often do) of the goodness of God and his gracious gift in his Son that surpasses all the peace that we think we have and gives us the peace that we actually need!
Oh Prince of Peace, we cry out to you, our great Reconciler.
Praise be to you, who in your matchless wonder
have drawn us to yourself, and thus to each other.
We confess, the brutality of the year has
left us feeling pummelled.
The news articles we see inspire anything but peace.
We are a people divided by worry.
(Oh, knit us together again!)
And yet, you invite us all to the same table, to sup as one.
You let the cup pass so that we might pass the peace.
While the world offers us counterfeit justice,
you, oh Ancient of Days, make possible the justice of the Gospel.
Our flesh is troubled. Anxious. Weary.
You comfort. Restore. Preserve.
We come from a long line of people
to whom truth and peace do not come naturally.
But because you have adopted us,
we have a new inheritance and a new lineage.
Now, peace is part of who we are in you.
As darkness closes in, we raise our hands in praise to you, our Redeemer and Healer.
Every Christmas carol, our resistance song.
You, our answer to sleepless fretting.
You, our freedom from division and strife.
You, our redemption and reconciliation,
purchased on the cross.
You, our deliverance from oppression into biblical justice.
In the coming days, surround us with your peace
in the face of persecution.
Give us courage and a sword to defend your holy city.
Put a trowel in our hands with which to do your good work.
And let us do both under the banner of your peace,
your reconciliation, and your Lordship!
Our complete and blood-bought unity is found in you. Any whiff of kinship we experience here on earth is just a foreshadowing of that which we’ll meet in eternal glory.