Peace, love, and joy. These are the common sentiments of the season. You read them in Christmas cards, you hear them in Christmas songs, you see them all aglitter on Christmas decorations. But what do they really mean? They are typically defined by moments and feelings that come and go, and so peace, love, and joy are temporary, already passing from the moment we perceive them. The 'season' doesn’t make them any more real or lasting, and the demands of the season seem to make them that much more elusive.
But I want you to know that you will FIND LASTING PEACE, LOVE, AND JOY IN CHRIST THIS CHRISTMAS. You find these blessings when you see what Christmas is all about, that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" – even the likes of you and me. (I Timothy 1:15) Your PEACE this season is that God holds no sin against you because Christ came and took your sin upon Himself. Your LOVE this season is that no one could possibly love you more than your God does, who gave Himself for you. And your JOY this season is in the great gift of forgiveness that God freely gives to you through His Son. These are not passing feelings; peace love and joy are permanent facts of your relationship with God as you look to Jesus in faith.
What can you learn about an artist from his art, musicians from their music, or an architect from her building? You might marvel at their creativity or skill or wisdom; you can study their work and learn much about them. But imagine walking through an art museum, pointing to a famous piece and saying, 'I know the artist.' Or going to a concert, pointing to the stage and saying, 'I know them.' Or pointing to a towering structure and saying, 'I know the person who designed this.' There’s a big difference between knowing ABOUT someone and actually KNOWING them, isn’t there?
In the same way, you can know ABOUT God, the Creator, from His creation. "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands." (Psalm 19:1) But oh, to KNOW Him! What a wonder to point to a sunset and say, 'I know the Artist,' to a chirping bird and say, 'I know the Composer,' or to a sonogram and say, 'I know the Designer.' Ah, it gets personal with that last one, doesn’t it? The Creator is your Creator. GET TO KNOW YOUR CREATOR, who makes Himself known to you, personally, through the Bible. GET TO KNOW YOUR CREATOR and see how He stepped into His creation, ruined by man’s sin, to save the likes of you and me. GET TO KNOW YOUR CREATOR…and give thanks.
"How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?" David’s cry in Psalm 13 is the cry of all humanity. You see it all around you, don’t you? And you yourself have been there, haven’t you? Disappointment, brokenness, and loss of purpose crying out. Guilt, shame, failure, futility crying out. Loss of patience and despair crying out. In times of suffering or disappointment, there is a temptation to question everything about God: 'Where’s Your care, Your love, Your presence?' You might even be tempted to declare yourself done with God, this God who seems to do nothing when you need Him the most.
David continues Psalm 13 with a dramatic change in tone. "But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me." How could he say this?!? His situation hadn’t suddenly changed; his anguish hadn’t ended. But David turned back to what he knew to be true of God – His love, His salvation, His goodness. Knowing that God’s love is unfailing, His salvation sure, and His goodness enduring, knowing what God had proven and promised, David’s heart could be at rest again, and yes, even rejoice. HOLD ON TO GOD’S UNFAILING LOVE. Nowhere do we see His love more clearly than in the One whom David looked forward to in faith, the promised Savior, Jesus Christ.
"Pray for all those in authority." Yes, "all." The Apostle Paul wrote this while living under Nero, who brutally persecuted Christians. Today’s leaders need our prayers too. God commands this "that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." The greater purpose behind this is that "God our Savior wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." (I Timothy 2:1-4) We participate in this mission by praying for our leaders and a peaceful community in which we can live our Christian lives and share the truth of salvation in Jesus.
Perhaps our greatest sin in this matter, besides how freely we slander our leaders and candidates, is that we get so worked up over politics and government as if our lives are dependent on them. The reality is that our lives are dependent on no one but God alone. Failing to remember this in any election, no matter the outcome, is a sin. Failing to trust that God is in control and holds everything in His hands, even this election, is a sin. Failing to remember that our security is found in Him and not some politician is a sin. Yes, all those in authority need our prayers. Pray for them! But God deserves our trust; we are dependent on Him alone. Trust in Him! PRAY FOR OUR LEADERS AND TRUST IN GOD.
Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church
Daniel is the Staff Minister at Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, El Paso TX.