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The Peace of God

by Greg Albrecht

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests" (Luke 2:14).

The night seemed normal—nothing out of the ordinary. The shepherds were watching the sheep, just like they always did. But suddenly something abnormal happened—an angel appeared. The shepherds were terrified. After assuring the shepherds they had nothing to fear, the angel announced the coming of the Prince of Peace.

Then God composed and arranged a musical anthem performed by a heavenly choir to emphasize the importance of the angel's message. The Bible uses a military term, host, to describe the angelic choir (Luke 2:13). A heavenly army came to announce peace. What kind of peace?

• The peace of God is the glory of God. These lyrics, put to music by many composers, have often been called "Gloria." Real peace must first acknowledge and praise God, realizing that true peace flows from his goodness and mercy.

• The peace of God is the product of the coming of Immanuel—"God with us" (Matthew 1:23). Peace breaks out when God is with us.

• The peace of God comes because of the presence of God on the earth. Peace is heaven on earth.

• The peace of God is given to those "on whom his favor rests." Peace on earth proceeds from God and becomes a reality for those who are blessed by his favor, and on whom his grace is given.

When we humans think of peace, we usually think of the absence of something. If only people wouldn't hate each other. If only we didn't have any weapons of war. If only poverty could be abolished. If only we could win the war against disease. If only justice could prevail.

But if all our if only prayers were answered, the peace of God would not be the result. The peace of God is not simply the absence of adversity and war. The sovereign God chose to become one of us at a time in history when external peace (the Pax Romana) prevailed throughout most of the civilized world.

God came to us, in the person of Jesus, at a time when massive armed conflict was not a factor. He brought peace to the world, not by taking away or removing problems, but by adding his presence to the world. Immanuel—God with us.

The peace of God is the presence of God. The peace Jesus brought, and the peace he still brings, is his presence, not his absence. Christmas is much more than a time when we all try to be happy, nice, merry and peaceful. It's much more than trying to have a peaceful dinner with extended family and relatives with whom you normally don't get along. It's much more than trying not to have bad things happen for a little while. Christmas reminds us that the peace of God comes to us only by his presence.

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

The peace of God proceeds from God, not from men. God brings it, and he gives it to those upon whom he gives the greatest gift. We cannot generate the peace of God, but we can receive it.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27).

The peace of God is not the realization of all of our "if onlys." The peace of God is the presence of God. Immanuel—God with us—is with us and has come to find us and save us. Come into his presence, into the glory of God.

O come let us adore the Prince of Peace.

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