The Elusiveness of Peace
Peace seems to be ever-elusive. When we think of peace, we usually think of a feeling of tranquility and happiness, neither of which we can ever seem to find. This is true whether we are talking about peace on a global scale, an inner feeling, or even a family getting together for Christmas.
It doesn’t take long to figure this out. You can turn on the news or sit down to have a conversation with your family or take one look at your “to-do list” and see that peace seems to be elusive. There seems to always be another war that has started, another tragedy in the community, another errand to run, more bills to pay, and more bad news that continues to pile up.
To a world desperately longing for peace, many people are left clinging to any kind of comfort or entertainment that can help them escape from the endless loop of bad news. But that leads deeper and deeper into the realization that peace (outside of Christ) is elusive.
I think C.S. Lewis says it so well in Mere Christianity:
"If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world."
Connection of "Glory" and "Peace"
So, how can we have this peace? I think the first thing we need to do in answering that question from Luke 2:14 is to look at the connection the angels seem to make between the glory of God and the peace given toward those in Christ.
The angels simply declare what they have been gazing at since their creation: the glory of the God in the highest. The One who created and rules the universe is the very One these angels have been gazing at. And they don't get tired of it. The continuously declare His glory, as they do in Luke 2:14. God is the most glorious Being in the universe, and the sending of His Son further declares that glory.
There is no greater declaration of God’s glory than the perfect life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Habakkuk 2:14 says, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” How does that happen? Through Jesus’ work on our behalf and in the spread of the gospel. And that will one day be completely fulfilled when He comes again. Therefore, the beginning of this spreading of His glory was in the sending of His Son. This brings God tremendous glory!
In the very same announcement of God's glory, the angels declare that peace comes to those in Christ ("with whom he is pleased"). This peace comes through the same thing that brings God the most glory: the gospel. We can have peace with God because we have been justified by faith through the work of Jesus (see Romans 5:1).
Therefore, God’s glory and our peace are connected through the gospel. When Jesus came to this earth as a baby, He was invading the kingdom of darkness and brokenness with the light of God’s glory and of our peace. Jesus’ coming to the earth to redeem His people is for God’s glory and for our peace.
The "Already" of This Peace
We must ask the question, is this peace a future peace or a peace for right now? And I want to make the case that the answer to that question is simply, “yes.” The peace that Christ brings is both now and future. This is the “already/not yet” of the peace of Christ. And I believe the Bible holds these two things hand-in-hand without pitting them against one another.
But this announcement is really the "inauguration" of this peace. "Inaugurated" simply means "to begin or to introduce" (Oxford). "Peace inaugurated" means that the peace that Christ brings in the gospel has broken into the world and continues to be spread as the Church makes disciples and proclaims the glory of God over the face of the earth.
The Assurance of the Cross
How can I be assured that I can have peace with God? Jesus experienced violence on the cross so that we could experience peace on the earth. I know many are offended when they hear of wrath or violence. But that’s what sin brings. Sin deserves violence and death. If we want to experience the peace of God, someone has to take violence because of the severity of our sin. Jesus’ violent death is your peace-filled life. If we lessen God’s wrath, we lose the gospel. Then the violence done to Jesus won’t make sense to us. The gospel won’t make sense to us. And true peace will be elusive. We will make our Christianity about us and never be assured if what we have done will be good enough. We will never be assured if God is truly pleased with us. Religion that is focused on ourselves will assuredly lead to "peacelessness." Only when we look to the One who came down as the spotless lamb, born of a virgin, who lived in complete righteousness for us as this spotless lamb, drank the cup of God’s wrath, was slaughtered as the ultimate spotless lamb, and who rose again three days later will we be able to have peace that it is enough. We have peace with God and He is no longer angry at us. He loves us and tells us that we have “peace” and “favor.” There is nothing and no one that can take that away.
Maybe you lack peace right now. Maybe the Christmas season only brings heartache and reminds you of the pain that you have experienced. Maybe you are distraught with what is going on in the world today. Maybe you are currently struggling with “not being afraid” or with not “letting your heart be troubled.” I get it. There are endless things that could lead us to despair.
But we must look to the resurrected Savior. The Bible makes it clear not just that He is where our peace comes from, but that He Himself is our peace. Ephesians 2:14-16 makes that explicitly clear.
Your feelings of "peace" will constantly fluctuate. But Christ remains constant, on His throne, and ever with you as an endless supply of peace. Look to Him.