ADVENT A Child Called Peace

Isaiah 9:2-7

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined. (Isaiah 9:2)

You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. (Isaiah 9:3)

For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. (Isaiah 9:4)

For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. (Isaiah 9:5)

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace. (Isaiah 9:7)

So Jesus doesn't only BRING peace, he's actually named the Prince of Peace.


Shooting in Four Hills on Monday - 3 kids gunned down.

Ian Matthew-9 // Olivia Renee-6 // Elijah Ray-5 / Cheryl

I'm so aware that as we come into this room and drink warm coffee and talk about hope and peace, that some people in our community have experienced horrors that most us can't fathom.

One horrible thing about gun controversy - Stops both sides from seeing with eyes on compassion.

When people are basically coming into this thing with the posture of "I told you so."

Maybe if there were less guns or there were more guns. And we forget that we're talking about real people.

Our first response - Weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn. Often times I feel like I see people mourn when it helps their point politically.


Maybe even worse - Really grieves me when Christians have this resignation that things are just going to be getting darker so don't worry about it.

'Last days.' -- Eschatology

We're the only people in the world that can see some tragedy in the world and say 'Praise God, it's the last days.'

I just really get uncomfortable with the kind of God that portrays.

I think that's one of the reason I dare stick my neck out when it comes to eschatology - which just means how you think this whole thing wraps up. - Many people believe that when Jesus comes it's going to be some blood bath like you've never seen.

And that gives them an excuse to be violent people.


Jesus comes -- bring -- PEACE.

I think we forget that the bible is VERY clear that what Jesus comes to bring - is PEACE. Do you believe that monday through saturday?

The peace that Jesus brings - "SHALOM" - is different than anything the world has to offer.

The way that Jesus brings peace seems like foolishness to the world.

The world also offers peace. They just can't deliver. They offer it in the form of - Wealth, Power, Security. But it never brings the peace it promises.

The peace that the world offers and the peace that Jesus offers are so completely different.

When Jesus is leaving the disciples he says that he's leaving them with his peace, that is not like the peace that the world gives.


Peace - SHALOM

Peace with God, peace with others, peace with yourself.

Talking to Jordan - What KIND - peace.

I was talking to Jordan about this sermon. And I told that I couldn't decide what KIND of peace I wanted to talk about. Peace with God, peace with others, or peace within yourself. And then, I was studying and praying about it, and I just occurred to me that they're all the same thing. And when one collapses, the other two do too.


3 different kinds -- related.

So I want to talk about 3 different kinds of peace individually and hopefully paint a picture of how all 3 are related.


1. Peace with God

Interesting. B/C this is the one you have wether you know it or not.

"I found God" Sometimes I hear people use the phrase 'I found God'. And I know what they're saying, but the truth is you really didn't. He found you. He's the pursuer.

He doesn't need you to treat him well in order for him to treat you well.

You'll recall his words on the cross - "Father forgive them. They don't know what they're doing." And please keep in mind that he's saying this about people who are IN THE ACT of murdering him. And in the same way, his grace extends to you.

You don't earn it, you don't deserve it, you just stop running.

And it's important that you always remember that. Because it's his example that let's you be at peace with others, and at peace with yourself.

I think most of us would agree with that, but have you let that get down to like the basement of your heart to where it affects the way you understand others and understand yourself.

Paul tells us to be imitators of Christ.


2. Peace with Others.

You can see this incredible contrast between the way of Jesus and the way of the world.

Luke 2:1-5

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. (Luke 2:1)

This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. (Luke 2:2)

All went to their own towns to be registered. (Luke 2:3)

Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. (Luke 2:4)

He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. (Luke 2:5)

I'm always amazed that when the bible is telling the story of Christ's coming, it always feels the need to communicate that it's during the time of Cesar Augustus

This was when a powerful ruler and powerful roman empire was actively oppressing the jewish people. His face was on their money and he was even called "The Son of God."

You can see throughout the New Testament, that the writers are constantly making a comparison between the Kingdoms of the world and the Kingdoms of God. And they are completely different.


A 2000 year old inscription (Pic)

The Inscription of Priene (Preenie)

"The day of His birth gave the whole world a new aspect. It would have fallen into ruin had not a widespread well-being shone forth through Him, the one now born as a savior both for us and our descendants that He might end war and establish all things. His birth marked the beginning of the gospel that He brought for the world. From His birth a new reckoning of time must begin."

9BC - referring to Caesar Augustus.

Jesus comes into a world that already had a gospel - the gospel of Caesar.

So there's this collision between the 'Pax Romana' (The Peace of Rome) and 'Pax Christi' (The Peace of Christ).

The people of Rome worshipped Caesar - b/c he "brought peace to the world". And how did he do that?

By killing all the bad guys. Of course there's always some disagreement as to who the bad guys are. The romans all agreed. They're the good guys, all who oppose us are the bad guys. But if you were a jew - you might have a different opinion on that.

The historian "Tacitus" said "Rome makes a desert and calls it peace." Slaughter all who oppose them.

You'll recall these are the people who INVENTED the cross. They needed a more brutal way of killing people.

"Peace on earth" is what they would say.


We are a violent species.

Our amazing ability to destroy each other. Goes on forever and ever and ever.

Cain killed Abel - we haven't stopped since.

It's brought us to Four Hills this past monday.

Over the past 5000 years there have been an estimated 14,500 wars killing approx 3.5 billion people.

Jesus comes to bring peace.

Since the end of WW2 there have been approx 250 wars killing 23 million people. 90% being civilians. 3 out of 4 being women and children.

Meanwhile, Jesus waits for us.

Today, there's over 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world. That's enough to destroy the human race 20 times over.

And still, Jesus comes to bring peace.

Here's what's crazy - it's all in the name of Peace. Cesars idea of peace.

I'm not being political, but I'm just trying to impress upon you the reality that the world knows absolutely nothing about how to find lasting peace.


Jesus (the prince of peace) comes with a different KIND of peace.

Jesus doesn't bring peace through destruction, he brings peace through reconciliation.

He doesn't slaughter his enemies, he allows himself to by slaughtered BY his enemies, thus bringing peace.

Jesus is the only hope for true peace on earth.

Does peace come through the way of Cesar, the way of Jesus?

Jesus says you can't serve 2 masters.


People with violence in their heart will always produce violence in their relationships. Jesus says to not be too proud about the fact that you haven't killed anybody, because if you hate them you're already guilty of murder. Jesus takes outward actions and connects them with the state of your heart.

I can't even describe to you the peace that I've experienced in my own life when I stopped trying to decide who I'm supposed to love and who I'm supposed to hate. - Not always easy. But at least it's SIMPLE.


3. Peace with Yourself

As the people of God, it's important for us to always be aware of the issues of the world and then ask ourselves this question: "What is it in ME that contributes to this?" If you hate the violence of the world, you need to ask yourself this question: 'Where is there violence in me?" Maybe you hate the selfishness of the world, then we have to ask ourselves "Where is there selfishness in me?"

Thomas Merton Quote

Catholic writer - early 20th century.

“So instead of loving what you think is peace, love others and love God above all. And instead of hating the people you think are warmakers, hate the appetites and the disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed—but hate these things in yourself, not in another.” (Thomas Merton)


For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. (Ephesians 2:14)

Not only does Jesus come to BRING peace, He IS our peace.

Here's what happens when surrender to Christ, when you stop being the Lord of your life, and you let HIM be Lord of your life, something amazing happens - scripture tells us that we're transported from the Kingdom of Darkness into the Kingdom of Light. - That we're PLACED IN Jesus Christ.

The idea is that that's where we LIVE. IN HIM we live and move, and have our being. Our LOCATION changes.

Greg Boyd says "When you surrender to Christ, you get a new address - IN CHRIST"

Sometimes it's hard to believe - Wherever you go, you also IN Christ.

You have the capacity. Whatever circumstance you find yourself in, however hostile, frustrating, you have the capacity to experience the Shalom of God, the peace of God in that circumstance.

Paul "Peace that passes all understanding."

So in situations where there's a part of you that says "It's time to freak out." - You don't have to.

You have a different way.

You have a different KIND of peace.

As followers of Jesus, we have a peace that stays with us even when our circumstances change.

The way of the world, the way of Cesar says 'As long as everything is going ok, I'll feel peace.' the Kingdom of God says 'I'm in peace wherever I go.'

BUT - you have to believe that about yourself. The way to believe that about yourself is by focusing on it.


THE KEY

You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. (Isaiah 26:3)

When your mind is focused on the things of God, you will experience God's peace.

But if you spend all week focusing on the things of the world and 1 hour a week when you come to outlet thinking about God, you're gonna be in peace. You watch the news all day, and you're all freaked out and then it's like 'God, please give me peace' it's not his fault, it's your fault.

If you keep your mind focused on God, you can have incredible peace even when the world looks like it's crumbling. Many of you have experienced that. Crap really hits the fan for you and b/c of that all of a sudden you become a person of prayer - and it's amazing how much peace you end up experiencing when your mind is stayed on the things of God.

That's the only way.

There's 2 steps - focus less on the worldly stuff and focus more on the things of God.

The world is a variable - it's always changing. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad. But Jesus is constant.

God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing. (C.S. Lewis)


(As - prepare for communion)

I want you to think about this:

  • The single defining characteristic of the Kingdom of the World is violence.
  • The single defining characteristic of the Kingdom of God is peace. - With God, With Others, with ourself.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. (Colossians 3:14)

Paul says "Here's what I want: I want you to love each, and live in peace."


3 Questions

1. Am I willing to lay down my opinions and take up the opinions of Jesus?

If the answer is no, then you're not a Jesus follower. YET. And that's ok. We're all community where all is welcome.

"Lord" But you need to understand, what it means to say that Jesus is Lord of your life is that you follow HIM and not yourself or anyone else.

If you're not there yet, may this advent season be a time for you to rethink your life.

2. In what way do my thoughts and actions contribute to the violence of this world?

In what ways do I still have this sharpness that hurts and wounds other people.

Me - Wound w/words. I've known for a long time that as a talker and brainy guy - I have a keen ability to wound with my words. But as God has continued to work with me, I HOPE that I'm doing that less and less.

Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone's face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come. (Henri Nouwen)

3. Where do I need to grow in my ability to keep my eyes focused on Jesus?

This is just a time for you to look honestly at yourself.

If all your information consumption was a pie chart, what % would be the things of God?

Technology has it's challenges, but one thing that's so great is that we all have the option of putting into ourselves good Godly things. If we want to. Sermons, worship music, bible, GOOD Christian books.

I'm not perfect, but I can honestly tell you that I read or listen to the bible every day. - That makes a huge impact on the way I see the world. God's not an afterthought for me.


Communion

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, (Psalm 46:2)

though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:3)

The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46:7)

He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. (Psalm 46:9)

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46:11)