JESUS CHRIST IS OUR PRINCE OF PEACE
A SERMON DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
21 DECEMBER 1997
Mark 4:39 9:50
John 14:26-27 20:25
1 Thessalonians 5:13-19
In our preparation verse for this morning (Colossians 3:15), we are told:
15. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.
We refer to Jesus as Lord, but most often we simply use it as a title.
For Jesus to truly be our Lord, it means that we have submitted our will to His, and have decided to follow His direction, completely.
By doing this we truly make Him Lord, or Ruler, of our life.
And since Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace, then His peace should rule in our hearts and every aspect of our lives.
And we should be thankful that we are no longer a part of the violent nature of this world; we may be affected by it, but we are not part of it. That is, if the peace of Christ rules in our hearts.
And we need to think very carefully about this, and about how much violence we still bring into our lives.
Now, let's stay with this thought of having the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, and look again at the verses from Isaiah that have been our theme of this Advent season (Isaiah 9:6-7).
6. For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
7. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.
The government will rest on the shoulders of the Prince of Peace.
And there shall be no end of either His government or of His peace.
This is the same peace that is to rule in our hearts.
And this peace, this peaceful government shall be established and upheld with justice and righteousness.
Since we are the called people of God, then the peace that is to be ruling in our hearts, should also increase the peaceful nature of our family life, our workplace, and every other place where we come in contact with one another.
Think about it. All the troubles we have in the world are because we don't truly love one another, and because we are not at peace with one another.
Jesus even commands us to be at peace with one another (Mark 9:50), and still the world doesn't want to believe it.
Most people think that love and peace are optional. They are not. They are mandatory.
Do you remember the story of the time that Jesus was sleeping in the boat with His disciples during bad weather, and the disciples were afraid they would drown. And they awoke Jesus and He rebuked the wind?
Do you remember what He said to the wind?
He said, "Peace, be still." (Mark 4:39)
And do you know what happened?
The wind died down and everything became perfectly still.
If even the wind and the sea obey the Lord, then why don't we?
We are told to let peace rule in our hearts, and if we look at the world around us, what we really see ruling in our hearts is violence.
When Jesus was preparing to depart from this world, He told His disciples,
26. "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
27. "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
So what do we do?
The Holy Spirit tries to help us, but we don't really listen to His voice within us.
We run around filled with all kinds of fear, and as a result we have troubled hearts.
Jesus gave us His peace, and for the most part, we act as if it never existed.
The Hebrew greeting, which Jesus obviously repeated often, even after His resurrection is, "Peace be with you." (John 20:25)
And if Jesus commanded peace to be with us, then it is.
Our problem is that we don't receive it.
It's so frustrating to look around the world and see only violence, with only an occasional spark of peace, when the reverse should be true.
When people think about the world leaders who have been people of peace, the name of Gandhi always seems to come up, and he was a Hindu.
And Gandhi is reported to have said, "If it wasn't for the Christians, I might have become one."
That is a really tragic statement to be said of the people who call themselves by the name of the Prince of Peace.
Here was a man who had the peace of Christ ruling in his heart, and yet, because of the actions of the Christians he knew, he wouldn't become one.
Gandhi saw the violent nature, and conditional love of the Christians, and not the peace and unconditional love and compassion he should have seen.
And if we're honest with ourselves, we see the same thing today.
What has happened to us?
What has happened to the peace that should be ruling in our hearts?
King Solomon, whose name even means, peaceable, was not at peace even with himself.
And in his latter years, as he looked back upon his life and the world around him, he wrote, "There is a time for war and a time for peace." (Ecclesiastes 3:8)
The only reason that there is ever a time for war, is because people have let go of their peace.
Think about the comparison.
Solomon, was not at peace with the wife of his youth, so he sought after hundreds more, which is evidence of never being at peace with any of them either.
Solomon was not really thankful for what he had, thus he lost his peace.
Saddam Hussain was not thankful for what he and his nation had, so they invaded their neighbor's land.
Instead of peace in his heart, he had violence.
So what did we do, we threaten violence to counter his violence, and we have war.
And if we had not supported Iraq's war with Iran, and truly sought to bring peace to the area, he might not have invaded Kuwait.
But our national interest is more centered upon violence than it is upon peace, and for the most part we consider ourselves to be a Christian nation.
The two just do not equate.
And how do we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace at this time of the year?
We buy games and toys of violence and war that teach our children how to be sons and daughters of violence, instead of teaching them how to have the peace of Christ ruling in their hearts.
And then we wonder, "Where did we go wrong?" when our children do become violent.
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, "Live in peace with one another." (1 Thessalonians 5: 13) And after this he said (5: 14- 19):
14. And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men.
15. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men.
Being patient with one another is part of being at peace with one another.
Never desiring to repay evil for evil is to allow peace to rule in our hearts.
And peace and love and compassion are what is really good for for all of us.
And if we can just learn to do this much, we will
16. Rejoice always;
as Paul tells us in this verse.
And what do we do to help achieve this?
17 . pray without ceasing;
18. in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
And then Paul adds a caution.
19 . Do not quench the Spirit;
For the Holy Spirit is the witness to us of the Prince of Peace, and of how the Lord wants us to live in that peace.
And some people think my wife and I, and others like us are crazy, because we extent this peace to the animals, too.
Have we so easily forgotten that the Prince of Peace was born in the home of animals, and laid to rest in their feeding trough.
Jesus Christ came to bring peace to the whole world, and not just to a few self-selected people.
We need to unconditionally let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts.
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