Advent: Jesus Gives us Peace With Others
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“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
“I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:2–9)
Read: John 15:18–16:33, Romans 12:9-21
On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus closed His final instructions to the twelve apostles with these words: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.” Jesus promised there would be tribulation for them. In fact, 10 were martyred for their faith and John was exiled to the island of Patmos. “But take heart,” Christ encouraged them. “I have overcome the world.” Even before the Crucifixion and Resurrection, Christ had already overcome the world. Long before the manger, Christ had purposed to overcome the forces of evil by coming as the seed of man (Genesis 3:15). Once our God promises something, we can consider it done. Christ has overcome the world and now we can have peace with others (in the world) through Him. This is not a peace that comes from the goodness of our hearts or the supposed “good” at the root of mankind. It is a joyful peace that comes from Jesus Himself, the “God of Peace” (Philippians 4:9). Jesus reconciles us to the Father and He reconciles us with others.
We will face trouble, and we will face persecution, but our battle is not with “flesh and blood.” It is against the “spiritual forces of evil” (Ephesians 6:12).
Romans 12 points us toward our high calling of joyful love in obedience to Christ. Once our mind is transformed by Christ (Romans 12:1-2), then we will begin to see others more highly than ourselves. This is the posture of Christ and it is the posture of His people! The love that the family of God has for one another is a display of God’s love to a hurting world. This visible message speaks volumes to a hurting world! Read Romans 12:9-12 and ask the Lord to reveal areas of your heart that don’t exhibit love and peace toward others.
The Gospel message unites the Church as one body. Reading over Paul’s plea (Philippians 4:2-9) to Euodia and Syntyche should burn mercy and love in our hearts toward our brothers and sisters. These women, who had labored with Paul in ministry, were at odds with one another. Paul doesn’t reveal what the issue is, but we don’t need to know. We only need to obey the principles that God’s Word lays out for us. Because we have the God of Peace in our hearts, transforming our hearts and minds, we are commanded to “agree in the Lord” with one another. Outside of major doctrinal issues or unrepentant sin, we are to work towards sweet fellowship within the body. We are a family!
- Are you at peace with those around you? The hurried frenzy of the Christmas season can be enough distraction to help us forget broken relationships with friends or family. Don’t allow that to happen. Christ reconciled mankind to Himself by humbling Himself and visiting His enemies. By His power, we can do the same.
- There are hurting people all around us, and they are often hurt by one another. Rather than swooping into conflict and trying to fix the symptom, pray for them and introduce them to Christ. Until someone is reconciled to God, they won’t be able to reconcile with anyone else. We first need to lead them to the peace of Christ.
Father, thank you for giving me peace with those around me–even when they don’t realize it. Help me to look toward others with love and compassion rather than with pride or frustration. Give me opportunities (and boldness) to share the good news of Jesus in a way that resonates with them. Soften my heart towards others. Remind me continually of the deep reconciliation you’ve provided and teach me how to speak your peace into the lives of others.
Family Discipleship Time
- What does the Bible say is genuine (true) love? (It is a love to shows others more honor than ourselves. True love is joyful, patient, and constantly in prayer for others.)
- How should we show genuine love toward others? (The Bible tells us to hold onto what is good, but stay away from any sign of evil in our hearts. We are to love others in ways that serve them and not ourselves. We also get to rejoice with them, and be patient with them when necessary.)
- Discuss ways you can meet others’ needs and show hospitality this month, and start godly habits for your family that stretch into next year.
- Song – “All Creatures of Our God and King”
- Article – “25 Simple Ways to be Missional in Your Neighborhood” on Verge
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”