A few days ago my daughter Mackenzie asked if I would help her on an assignment in her online guitar class. Now this doesn’t happen often, because she is the expert in music not me!
The assignment taught some basic guitar skills along with reading music. I whizzed through the instructions quickly assuming Mackenzie understood those things and just needed help understanding how she was supposed to put it all together.
That’s when she told me “Everyone thinks because I’ve been playing guitar for a long time that I know how to read music but I don’t. No one taught me that at the beginning. I just started out just learning the chords and not the individual string/note names.”
That kinda amazed me but looking back, it was true!
Well the devotional I read today in My Utmost for His Highest reminded me of this conversation and how we can do the same thing spiritually, especially during the Christmas season.
The verse was Matthew 10:34, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
Wow! I don’t get the warm fuzzies after reading that verse like I do after singing Hark the Harold Angels Sing.
The word peace stood out to me. It says Jesus didn’t come to bring peace to the earth. Peace meaning what?
I did some cross-referencing and found these verses on peace:
Isaiah 9 says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders and He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
And in John 14:27 Jesus says : “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you….Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Last one – Romans 5:1-2 says, Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”
So what I see is Jesus is our Prince of Peace, meaning He came that we might have peace with God through Him and be able to experience His peace during difficult times. But He did not come to bring peace to Earth in the sense of everyone holding hands around the campfire singing Kumbaya.
Here’s the fact: the heart of the gospel wounds, pierces even, before it heals. It offends deeply, then soothes. It convicts and then forgives. It stirs up tension, then gives peace.
Isaiah 53:5 “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.”
Amen, thank you Jesus!
This is the basics of Christianity that I think we so often miss! That the gospel must offend before it can be accepted. It’s like Mackenzie with learning to read music after being able to play the guitar for 5 years.
Everyone assumes she’s knows these things, but no one taught her.
We can be Christians for many years and not realize – this walk is supposed to be hard. There is a war waging inside me between my natural self and my spiritual new self. And it will wage war until the day I die; I will never arrive at a level of spirituality where I’m not tempted or have ungodly desires that I must resist, gouge out or walk away from.
I think we can be so eager for people to become a Christian we rush this process. We don’t want to offend. I know I’m guilty of that! But what happens is new Believers think life should be externally peaceful, meaning free of relational strife, financial hardships, physical pain, divorce, cancer, etc because they have the magic formula of Jesus.
Jesus never says that in the gospels! He says, “Don’t suppose (don’t trick yourself into thinkin’) I have come to bring peace…I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
The result of Jesus’ coming, the result of Christmas is conflict! Jesus has drawn the battle lines. The war of good versus evil has begun and is still in session!
But the good news is, that same gospel message – that same sword that pierces also heals. His coming has flipped over the tables of traditional religion and ushered in eternal life to those who don’t have it all together.
The good news this Christmas is Jesus offers us His peace. His peace to ride out the storm, or the sickness, the grief, the sadness, the heartache.
So next time you sing, “Peace on Earth and mercy mild…” don’t forget to belt out the next line, “God and sinners reconciled.” The act of reconciling had a price. And Jesus paid that price for us, that we could have peace with God and the peace of His Presence during troubles.
I pray we don’t forget that basic truth of God this Christmas season…and remember to teach it to someone else!