Christmas and Peacemaking
JOHN KIMBALL, DIRECTOR OF CHURCH DEVELOPMENT
One of the primary themes of Christmas is peace. “Peace on earth, goodwill to men.” It’s written on our Christmas cards, signs, and even ornaments. Biblical peacemaking and Christmas go hand in hand. But sometimes I think people don’t grasp what this peace is.
When Jesus is called the Prince of Peace, the Hebrew term there is shalom. This kind of peace is much more than an absence of conflict on the earth. It speaks of completeness, wholeness, perfection – taking everything back to God‘s original creation (Genesis 1:31). For humanity, it speaks of wholeness in body, soul and spirit.
In the context of Christmas, biblical peacemaking means we are used by God‘s Holy Spirit to bring shalom to those around us. We become willing participants in his mission to restore peace on the earth. It’s participating in preaching the good news to the poor. It’s being an instrument in God’s hands to proclaim freedom for prisoners, helping the blind to see, being an instrument of God‘s justice for oppressed and declaring his favor. (Luke 4:18-19
I find it interesting that both the Greek and Aramaic terms for peace have similar meanings to shalom. Further, the Greek term sozo, translated “to save,” also carries this flavor of healing, deliverance, completeness— to make whole. Jesus didn’t come to just save us from our sins, but to fully restore us.
Christmas is the story of a loving God who invades a broken and conflicted world in order to bring salvation and peace. Christmas isn’t Christmas without shalom. So just how do we join Jesus in his mission of peacemaking? I would suggest it begins with prayer and intercession. Here are some ideas for how you can pray for those around you:
- Start by understanding that, before it is a condition, peace is a person – Jesus himself is our source (Ephesians 2:14)
- Pray for healing – for the wholeness we’ve been describing (Luke 7:50)
- Pray for deliverance – think of the demoniac who was in his right mind after meeting Jesus (Mark 5:15)
- Pray for salvation (Luke 7:50; 8:48)
- Pray for provision – and not just financial (John 14:27; 2 Peter 1:1-8)
- Pray for reconciliation – with God and man (Colossians 1:20; Ephesians 2:14)
- Pray for understanding (Philippians 4:7-9)
- Pray for sanctification (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
- Pray for perfection (2 Corinthians 13:11)
- Pray for victory over evil (Romans 16:20)
- Pray for your own peace to spread (John 20:21; Luke 10:1-17)
There are many ways to be instruments of shalom to the world around us, but I believe it always starts on our knees.
May God bless you this Christmas with a fresh understanding of and passion for your own role in Jesus’ mission of biblical peacemaking.
May we all represent our Prince of Peace well!