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Our Prince of Peace

Experiencing Christ’s Calm Stability in the Midst of a Troubled World

By Charles F. Stanley

Around Christmastime, we hear songs and watch pageants that repeat the angelic proclamation, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased” (Luke 2:14). But have you ever wondered where this blessed peace is? If God promised it, why do we see so little of it in our world? In fact, why don’t we see more of it in our families, workplaces, neighborhoods, and churches? And on an even more personal note, how much inner tranquility are you experiencing this Christmas season? Either God has let us down, or we haven’t understood what He meant.

I am here to tell you that God never fails to fulfill His Word, so the problem is not with Him but with us. The angels were not proclaiming that world peace would arrive with the appearance of the Messiah. That is clear from Matthew 10:34, when Jesus said, “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” In fact, His ministry would not result in harmony even among family members: “For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household” (vv. 35-36).

These hardly sound like appropriate words for the proclaimed Prince of Peace. If present earthly harmony was what God had in mind, Jesus’ ministry would never have ended as it did—in hatred, betrayal, cruelty, and crucifixion. Although Scripture predicts the ultimate end of all world conflict and war, this utopia will not come until Jesus returns as sovereign King over all the earth. However, world conquest was not the reason Christ came the first time as a tiny babe in a manger. There was a greater issue to be settled before His physical reign could be established on earth. The angels’ message announced the solution to man’s biggest problem: hostility toward God.

Peace with God

Now, you may be saying, “I’m not hostile toward God.” But every one of us started out alienated from the Lord simply because we are all sinners by nature and by choice. Since God is holy, sin separates us from Him and makes us His enemies, whether we feel we are or not (Isa. 59:2). The only way to solve this problem is through reconciliation.

The Greek word for peace in Luke 2:14 is derived from a root word meaning “to bind together.” Jesus came to bind us back together with the Father. While we were still estranged from Him, Christ came to earth as Deity clothed in human flesh, and He paid the penalty for our sins by dying in our place. Now all who receive Him as Savior can be reconciled to God through justification, which simply means He declares them “not guilty!” Since the cause for our separation from Him is removed, we’re no longer His enemies but instead are His beloved sons and daughters.

Peace with Others

Christ not only reconciled us to the Father, but He also made it possible for us to enjoy harmonious relationships with others. For many people, Christmas is an occasion for happy gatherings of family and friends, but holidays can also be opportunities for old grievances to reappear, arguments to start, and tempers to flare. At times like this, the peace proclaimed by the angels can seem far from our reality.

However, when Christ becomes our Savior, He commits Himself to transform every area of our lives, including our relationships. He can heal our emotional wounds and break down walls of prejudice, indifference, hurt, and anger, which keep us from loving each other. Relationships are two-way streets, though, so we may not be able to reconcile every conflict. And yet through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can forgive and even love those who are antagonistic toward us.

Peace within Ourselves

Christ’s first coming did not change all the externals of our environment in such a way that all conflict and stressful situations are eliminated. The peace that Jesus gives His followers is an internal calm which produces confident stability no matter what is going on around them.

What does it take for you to have tranquility? If it’s wrapped up in good relationships, financial security, material possessions, or fulfilled plans and dreams, then you have fallen for the world’s definition of peace, which is based on external circumstances. If that’s the case, whenever your situation changes, your serenity vanishes and is replaced with anxiety, frustration, or fear.

Experiencing the incomprehensible. God’s peace is superior to anything the world can offer, because it is based on a relationship with Christ and has nothing to do with circumstances. Unlike our environment, our position in Christ cannot be altered. We are eternally secure and completely covered by His sovereign hand of protection and guidance. According to Philippians 4:7, God’s peace surpasses all human comprehension and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

We have all been through tough trials and valleys of tears while our dreams were shattered and everything was falling apart around us. Yet inside our hearts, how many times did we feel this overwhelming sense of incomprehensible serenity and trust as God’s grace overflowed in our time of need? Apart from the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, this would be impossible.

I will always remember speaking to a woman whose son was lying at death’s door after a terrible accident. She told me that throughout her ordeal, the peace of God covered her like a holy cloud. Although the circumstances were horrendous and stressful, the Lord just surrounded her with His quiet assurance.

I’ve experienced similar significant times in my life when I had every reason in the world to be anxious. Though God desires unity among His followers (Eph. 4:1-3), even Christians can yield to the temptation of taking sides. I still recall finding myself in a tense situation, where one faction supported me but the other was strenuously opposed.

As I wrestled with this before the Lord, He gave me a scripture that stabilized me throughout the three-day meeting. Each time I walked out of a session, I’d tell Him, “I feel so calm inside. When am I going to get scared?” But Christ’s surpassing peace filled me, and I never became afraid. The verse God gave me guarded my heart and mind: “I have put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand” (Isa. 51:16).

My friend, as long as you and I are covered by God’s omnipotent hand there is no reason to be afraid, anxious, or disturbed about anything. That hand covers each difficult situation we face and provides for every need we encounter.

Living in turmoil. Knowing that such amazing peace is available to every believer, why don’t we experience it more consistently? One obvious reason is sin—choosing to act independently of God’s will. Every time we resist His instructions or convictions and go our own way, we are in conflict with Him. Believers cannot have tranquility when walking in opposition to the Lord. The conviction of the Holy Spirit will cause internal commotion in their hearts.

Another reason for emotional turmoil is a lack of faith. Remember the meaning of the word peace—“to bind together.” Sometimes we fail to connect what the Lord says is true of us with what we feel about ourselves. Then, feelings of inadequacy can overrule the truth of His Word, which says, “Our adequacy is from God” (2 Cor. 3:4-6). Thoughts of worthlessness outweigh His promise of value and acceptance (Eph. 1:4-5), and fears overtake His guarantee to provide for all our needs (Phil. 4:19).

In the same way, when we look at the suffering and difficulty in our lives and perceive God as uncaring or unable to help, we’re relying on our own understanding instead of on the truth of Scripture. Anytime we begin to distrust and doubt God, our confident assurance will be shaken.

Making a choice. So, how can we move from anxiety and distress to a sense of assurance and stillness in our spirits? There is only one way. We must choose to receive it—and not just once, but every day.

Our first decision must be to raise the white flag of surrender. Those who insist on having their own way will never know serenity. Let God win the battle for your will. The outcome will be surprising. In most wars, the side that surrenders, loses. But when you submit to the Lord, you don’t lose; you win! Inner turmoil is replaced with quiet trust.

The second decision we must make is to focus on Christ and His Word, not on the impossible situation, conflict, or fear. “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You” (Isa. 26:3). Since our emotions follow our thoughts, we must pay careful attention to what we allow to dominate our thinking. When our minds are fixed on God and we trust in His sovereignty and love for us, we can face stressful circumstances with a settled assurance—despite appearances, we know that He has our best interests at heart and is working all things out for our good and for His glory.

One of my most precious memories involves a time when I was experiencing great turmoil. Knowing my distress, an elderly lady in my church showed me a picture on her wall and asked me to tell her what I saw. It was a picture of Daniel in the lions’ den, so I described the hungry lions with closed mouths and Daniel standing with his hands behind his back. But I missed the most important detail. This perceptive woman put her arm around me and said, “Son, what I want you to see is that Daniel doesn’t have his eyes on the lions, but on God.” That was one of the greatest sermons I’ve ever heard in my life.

Christians are not victims of their circumstances. The Lord made it clear that we do not have to live in anxiety but can choose a better way. Shortly before His death, Jesus promised to give the disciples His peace, and He concluded with these instructions: “Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). We, too, have been given this promise and have the same responsibility not to let our hearts become distressed. This Christmas, choose peace. Don’t allow the busyness of the season to shift your focus from Christ. Let Him be your Prince of Peace in every situation.

Questions for Further Study

1. How does Jesus describe His peace in John 14:27 and 16:33? On what is it based? What surprising contrast is pre- sented? According to 2 Thessalonians 3:16, when and how often can we experience this peace?

2. ho produces Christ’s peace within us (Gal. 5:22-23)? What choice do we make that determines whether or not this fruit is generated in us (Gal. 5:16-17)? How important is our mindset in this process (Rom. 8:5-8)?

3. Philippians 4:4-9 is packed with information that can help us understand how to experience an inner sense of calm assurance. Make a list of all the commands Paul gives in this passage. What is the promise that is sandwiched between all these instructions (v. 7)? What condition for its fulfillment is given in verse 6? How would practicing all of Paul’s recommendations contribute to the fulfillment of this promise?

4. When Christ’s peace takes root in our hearts, it affects us personally, but it also impacts the way we relate to others. Read Colossians 3:12-17. In verse 15, what evidence do you see of personal inner peace influencing the harmony of an entire church? What attitudes and practices in this passage could help you achieve a spirit of unity with others?

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