Are you stressed-out this Christmas?
Normally Christmas is very stressful. But this year is not normal and I’m guessing many are beyond anxious about gathering together, buying presents, and staying healthy. Like me, I’m sure you’d like a little PEACE for Christmas. Yet, so many of us do not have peace at Christmas, or any time recently. Our world seems to be always in conflict.
After Jesus was born, an angel showed to some shepherds and explained the good news of great joy for all people: that Jesus had been born in Bethlehem. And then a numberless group of angels joined him…
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:13-14)
PEACE was on earth. The peace the angels proclaimed was not a proclamation of world peace or a declaration of the end of strife and war. It was not a direct announcement that we can now get along with our neighbors. It’s actually much bigger and much more important than any of that because when you have Jesus you have peace because He is the Prince of Peace.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (Romans 5:1)
When you ask Jesus to come into your life, He starts the peace process. First, you have peace with God. Through Jesus, the barrier of sin has been removed. You now have an eternal relationship and peace with God! The peace on earth Jesus brings is foremost the peace that we can have with God through Christ. This peace comes by faith in Jesus and the forgiveness that follows.
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6,7)
When you have peace with God, He will help you have peace within yourself. No one expects you to be perfect. Life can cause us to be stressed out, overwhelmed, and exhausted. But when you embrace the peace you have in God, you can bring every problem to Him and He will take care of you.
Despite all the talk of peace and grace in Christian circles, very few feel the peace and love of God rather than needing to work for His approval. You can talk with God about anything and He will give you His peace to calm your heart.
Because Jesus brought us peace with God, one of the greatest responses we can have to this amazing news is to become peace proclaimers in all our Christmas traditions, preparations, and celebrations. The truth is, most families experience relational pressure and difficulties during this season. For many families, Christmas actually bring more strife and conflict rather than less. You can pass God’s peace to all you know.
One of the dangers of this season is getting so caught up in our traditions and so wrapped up in trying to create the perfect holiday that we forget our real mission. This season I hope you will be more concerned—not less concerned—with proclaiming the peace of Jesus. Live out the Gospel with your friends and family. Make connections and have conversations with people that you only connect with during this season. Now is the time to pray for wisdom in those connections. Now is the time to consider how you can proclaim Christ through what you say and how you act.
When he was 63 years old, Alvin Straight got in a disagreement with his brother, Henry. Separated by 240 miles, the two never spoke or met again for ten years. When he was eighty years old, Henry had a stroke. When Alvin heard the news, he decided it was time to reunite with his brother before it became impossible to do so. At seventy-three, Alvin’s sight was too poor for him to get a driver’s license. So, Alvin loaded up a trailer with gasoline, camping gear, and food. He hooked the trailer to the back of a riding lawn mower and set off to see Henry. At a top speed of five miles per hour, it took Alvin Straight six weeks to make the 240-mile journey from Iowa to Wisconsin in order to make peace with his brother. One month later, Henry recovered from his stroke and moved back to Iowa to be closer to his family.
We can’t make anyone change. You can’t make anyone do much of anything. But you can possess peace, be peaceful, and proclaim peace. How far are you willing to go to share the peace you have in Jesus with the people you know? Are you willing to take the first step?