Peace is not the absence of conflict

Last night, a full week before Thanksgiving, I had the Canadian Brass Christmas music blaring. I started thinking about the Christmas story and that scene long ago where Luke writes of the Christ child:

11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

But then this morning in my devotions I read these poignant words of Jesus from Luke 12 where He has this to say about peace:

49 “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Those shocking words sat me back in my chair, compelling me to turn to these words of Jesus in John 14:

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

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What are we to make of these words from the man of peace whose Spirit lives within us? Personally, I believe He does fill us with the Spirit of peace. He surely does want His followers to continue saying to one another: “The peace of Christ be with you.”

I wrote in my journal: “This morning, like every day, brings a decision. Will I be with Jesus or against him? Will I seek the rule of Jesus in my life or will I let my own rules guide the day? Will I do unto others before they do unto me? Will I build up or tear down? Whose disciple will I be today?”

Blessed are the peacemakers who have been filled with the Spirit of peace. May the fruit of peace, freely given by the Spirit living within us, ripen as we live by faith, even in the midst of division and conflict.