Advent 2017: Joy to the World

Day 13: All Nations Shall Find Peace

Micah 4:1-7, Psalm 46:4-11, Isaiah 53:4-12

 

We’re ten days out. You could hit Christmas with a rock if you tried. Chances are good you’re not thinking about nations finding that peaceful, easy feeling with one another. But it’s probably a safe bet to say you’d like a little of that peace stuff yourself, what with end of the year reports, juggling family and travel plans, parties, gifts, and tax season right around the corner. The train just keeps a’rolling. But what are nations if not individuals sharing a common geography? Maybe the path to personal mid-December peace is not that different from that of a nation.

They will beat their swords into plows
and their spears into pruning knives (Micah 4:3).

Interesting that the weapons of war are beaten into submission, isn’t it? And that they are no longer instruments used to conquer, but rather to cultivate? It would be tempting at this point to think the answer must be exchanging business casual for Carhartt coveralls, then raising some chickens and charming honeybees. And maybe going full Wendell Berry is a wise direction for some men to take. But the reality is you can finally get away from that jerk of a boss only to end up with a jerk of a neighbor whose wild hounds keep killing your chickens. It’s into our realities—be they Fortune 500 or hobby-farms—that the God of Christmas says to both men and nations:

“Stop your fighting, and know that I am God,
exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth” (Psalm 46:10).

It would be tempting at this point to think the answer must be going full trust in God. And instead of warring against everything and everyone, we ought to use the tools and skills and gifts and talents we’ve been given to cultivate life and love, instead of conquering for the sake of acquiring more and more and more. Bingo. But to do that we must have an actual moment when we stop and turn from that way of existing to this way of living, which is what the Bible refers to as repentance.

We’re ten days out. To think we could stop, snap our fingers, start knowing, and end up with some Norman Rockwell Christmas is simply foolish. But we do have time to begin the work that makes for peace. But we’ll never know until we stop our fighting, and start pursuing repentance.

Written by John Blase