The angel’s announcement of the birth of Jesus was one of “good tidings of great joy” as we noted last week in thinking about Christmas joy.
Having delivered those good tidings to the shepherds, the heralding angel was joined by “a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men’” (Luke 2:13–14).
The coming of Christ into the world was the heavenly provision for the possibility of earthly peace. If our thoughts go immediately to world conditions, we wonder if we will ever see the fulfillment of the angels’ announcement. Human history is packed with the reality of wars and rumors of wars. Nations continue to rise against nations.
‘He shall reign’
Against this somber fact stands the heavenly announcement that one day it may be said, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever” (Rev. 11:15). What we see now is a far cry from eternity’s future.
In the meantime, God has made provisions for individuals to experience His peace in their hearts, even amid raging external conflict and hostility. The declaration of Psalm 119:165 still stands: “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.”
Until peace on earth and goodwill toward men is brought to pass when Christ returns to establish His perfect kingdom, believers must live amid raucous times with inner peace, knowing that all is well between them and God.
When Galatians 5:22–23 lists the various characteristics of a life indwelled by the Holy Spirit, the third listed fruit of the Spirit is peace. Later in the New Testament, Colossians 3:15 instructs us, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts.”
This ruling of the Spirit in a believer’s heart is often compared to the function of an umpire in baseball, who has the authority to rule whether runners are safe or out when they slide into a base.
God’s peace is often the divine umpire that indicates whether a given act or attitude is safely acceptable to God.
When inner peace follows an act, it may well be God’s Spirit ruling the action to be “safe” or acceptable in His sight.
May the peace of God rule in our hearts this Christmas season, as well as throughout our earthly sojourn.