I was asked to share a devotion at our church’s women’s tea. Here it is:
Know Christ. . . Know Peace
Colossians 3:15 The peace of Christ must control your hearts–a peace into which you were called in one body. And be thankful people.”
Different translation: Let the Peace of Christ rule in your heart.
Peace is a longing we have! I recently attended a parenting training and the speaker asked every single parent in the room what their longing was for their home. EVERY SINGLE PARENT REPLIED “PEACE.” I think of commercials with the picture perfect family, smiling children, perfect Christmas tree decorated beautifully with every ornament matching the theme. . .
That’s not the case at my house, just to be clear.
What is Christmas peace?
A baby sleeps peacefully in a manger on a hillside. It’s a beautiful, balmy evening. Stars are bright, farm animals are milling around, munching on hay.
Babies don’t usually just quietly lay by themselves. Typical newborns have their days and nights mixed up. As a doula, I know babies. I don’t know the exact details about THIS special baby beyond what Scripture tells us, but I know about typical newborn behavior. Many times, I’m hired to support families overnight to maximize sleep for everyone. Exhausted parents long for a peaceful stretch of hours.
My ability to provide parents with a peaceful night comes from knowing babies and teaching parents how to better understand their baby. Babies need to feel secure. (Those swaddle blankets are still used! Imagine that! What worked for Jesus works for most humans. Babies have a startle reflex where if they’re put on their back their hands starts to whirl outward for protection. )
Parents need to know that to better meet their baby’s needs. How to hold, how to soothe, how to feed a new baby are important qualities to learn quickly when becoming a parent.
As parents go through this process, they bond to their baby. They get to know their baby’s cry. They get to know hunger cues and sleepy cues. Soon, they develop a routine and rhythm as they respond to to their baby and as their baby adjusts to life in the world. The better they know their baby, the better they are able to respond to their baby.
Mary, too, as a mother, would know Jesus intimately as his mother and respond to him because of this knowledge.
Mary was a Jewish woman who knew God. She must have–for who else would respond to a unplanned pregnancy (miraculous though it was) revealed through an angel with the words “I am the Lord’s Servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.”
Mary knew that God is faithful. She trusted God’s blessing with her life. Her knowledge of God’s provision for her people–from God sending plagues and saving the Israelite’s firstborn as remembered during Passover, delivering Moses and the Israelites by parting the Red Sea, lighting the lamp that never went out, the courage and grace God gave Esther to save His people yet again, to Isaiah preaching of a coming savior, . . . OT miracles and prophecies were all probably known to Mary, a faithful Jewish woman. She knew God as trustworthy. She knew that God’s blessings are worth more than anything to be found on this earth.
Socially, she faced ruin. Caught in the middle of a political change and census, she had to travel with her fiance to Bethlehem, only 6 miles away. Perhaps she was relieved at the chance to escape the social ramifications of her conditions; She delivered her baby in this foreign- to-her town.
Her knowledge of God brought her an intimate relationship with God through Jesus the Christ.
So. . . what do we know about God? What we know about (or think we know) about God influences our relationship with God.
How about this: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Does that come from the Old Testament or the New? I wonder if Mary realized these Old testament prophetic verses from Isaiah 9 applied to her son.
Do you know who else knew Christ? The disciples. Jesus called 12 men to travel with him, learn with him, minister with him. He called them to earthly itinerant poverty. . and he called them to help bring about the Kingdom of God’s blessings to this same earth. These men listened to Jesus teach. They slept near him. They ate meals with him. They saw him feed 5000+ people; they watched him raise the dead back to life. They knew him.
They chose to change their lives to be a part of the Kingdom of God.They chose to obey him, they desired to please him. They didn’t always get it right. There were certainly life threatening dips in the road:
Peter cut off a guard’s ear on the night Jesus was arrested. It was the wrong thing to do–because Peter didn’t understand. Peter denied knowing Christ 3 times following his arrest. It was the wrong thing to do–because Peter didn’t understand.
Mary chastised Jesus because she lost him on their pilgrimage. She knew him. She didn’t understand.
Sometimes we want to know Christ. We want to understand. But we just can’t get it right. That perfect christmas is just out of reach. We focus on the wrong things (or maybe even the right things!) and we still fail. That’s life. But we shift our focus, strengthen our resolve to pay closer attention to our King and to understand better the priorities of Heaven versus what the earth tells us we need.
Christmas celebrates the day that God became Flesh and walked among us. God took on human form and was tempted, betrayed, crucified by and for the very ones God came to save. God realized that humanity’s end of the sacred covenant we held with God was in jeopardy–because we have chosen time and time again to turn away from God.
The peace Christ brings is in fact, peace with God. The Kingdom of God is here, today. You are a part of it. Everything you do works to establish God’s kingdom on earth. How you respond to conflict, how you spend your money, what you teach your children, how you serve others, how you share your talents, abilities and gifts–has eternal consequences.The ultimate goal of Jesus’ Life, death and resurrection was to restore peace to God’s people. Jesus lived, laughed, suffered and died so that we might be found righteous.
Do you know Christ? Do you want to know Christ better?
Follow in Mary’s footsteps. Speak to God. Listen for God.
Follow the disciples’ example–Question God. Obey God. Look for miracles. Read others’ accounts about Jesus in the Bible.
Listen to the Holy Spirit, which is in each of us.
Fellowship with other believers–ask hard questions, hold each other accountable.
The better we know Jesus, the more we will understand and the better we are able to respond to God’s call on our lives.
The apostle Paul encourages believers to fix their minds on things that are above, where Christ is sitting. With a focus on Christ’s priorities, our church and our community will flourish. Paul explains, “The peace of Christ must control your hearts–a peace into which you were called in one body..” Colossians 3:15.
Then, as you navigate the dips of life with knowledge of and relationship with Christ, you can name the challenges, navigate a plan through them, and know that with Jesus next to you, trusting God will bring you through as a new person–blessed with fruits of the spirit such as joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. . . and peace. ❤