By Lisa Huddleston
“And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7).
Last week we lit the first candle on our virtual Advent wreath: the candle of Hope. We celebrated the Hope we have in Christ and recognized that all good things come from Him and through Him and return again to Him. This week, we re-light Hope and add to it the candle of Peace.
Peace? At this time of year? It does seem a little out of place, doesn’t it? Just this morning I read the Facebook statuses of many of you who were bemoaning the busy-ness of the season. There are gifts to buy for family, friends, teachers, co-workers, neighbors, and charities. Just the time and money investments alone are enough to zap the peace right out of even the jolliest Christmas elf. As one friend noted, there just doesn’t seem to be enough of us to go around. How do we even begin to celebrate Peace at this time of year?
In his letter to the Philippian church, Paul wrote some practical counsel to finding the peace of Christ Jesus. He began by recommending spending some time in praise. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4). If you are like many others, busy times take you out of your ordinary schedule and interfere with your usual routine of prayer, devotion, Bible study and worship. How can you really “Rejoice in the Lord” during the holiday season? Without pouring more stress and guilt into your life, how can you set aside some time to rejoice in the presence of the Prince of Peace? It may require an “as you go” approach, but it will be worth the effort to worship Him truly as the Christ of Christmas.
The next thing on Paul’s “Peace List” is to “Let your graciousness be known to everyone” (Phil. 4:5). This may be a tall order for some. (I’m just saying.) It’s not easy to be gracious to everyone especially when you’re trying to find a parking spot at the mall or return that purchase that you found cheaper at another store. The pushy driver who pulls into your place or the rude clerk who only wants to give you store credit instead of the cash you expected doesn’t really deserve grace. Ah, but that’s what makes it grace. And to remind us of the grace we ourselves have received, Paul adds, “The Lord is near.” He is here and is coming again, and that is our motivation as believers to take care in our treatment of others. Less conflict leads to more peace for everyone.
Next, Paul writes, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6). Instead of worrying about gifts and parties and cooking and whatever else is on your list today, how can you hand it off to Jesus in prayer and with thanksgiving? Jesus has the power to help us accomplish “anything” we need to do and the wisdom to reveal to us “everything” that may not be required of us after all.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7). Peace in Christ. Of course, at Christmas. He is here. The Prince of Peace has come into the world. How can you celebrate His coming with peace in your heart? By doing “what you have learned and received and heard and seen … and the God of peace will be with you” (Phil 4:9). Hallelujah! Amen!