The new year is upon us. The Christmas decorations are being put away, and the regular routines of life are resuming. The phrase “peace on Earth,” however, still echoes through our recent memories. It has been sung, read, and recited. In a society brimming with political angst and cultural discord, aren’t we all desperately longing for a bit of peace? Additionally, there is the alarming frequency of natural disasters, illnesses, and tragedies to remind us of humanity’s state of utter chaos. Let’s be honest, though. If we zoom in on our experience as homeschooling families, don’t we crave peace in our own homes too?
Popping over to my place for tea on any given afternoon, you would find a wide assortment of animals announcing your arrival while completely disregarding your personal space. You would likely have to move a pile of books in order to sit down. You would be greeted by three small humans, eager to share with you every exciting thing in their life since their last birthday. Ten minutes later the sounds of sibling squabbles, mishaps, and, yes, even complaining would waft through the house. Then, if we actually got a moment to chat, I might share with you my concerns about Lucy’s upcoming state testing, or Robby’s attitude towards reading. Not exactly peaceful, right?
Being Jesus’ parents was not always peaceful either. In Luke 4:41-51, we find the story of a young boy who disappeared for three days. Can you imagine not knowing where your child is for THREE DAYS? But, wait! If we back up just a few verses in the very same chapter, don’t the angels herald at the top of their lungs, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (vs.14)? Back to verse 48, Jesus’ mother says to him, “Son why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” He responds most matter-of-factly, almost unconcerned with his parents’ ordeal: “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (vs.49).
Mary and Joseph certainly weren’t experiencing peace during those three days of searching for their missing child. But, is that really the kind of peace that God promises?
Take a look at Matthew, chapter 10. Jesus’ very words declare, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword….Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (vss.34,37,38). At first glance there seems to be a mighty juxtaposition between the message of peace at the birth of Jesus, and His words verily declaring war!
I wonder if the answer lies in our definition of peace. Is peace merely the absence of discomfort and disagreement, or is peace something bigger and deeper? Philippians 4:4-9 promises peace that transcends our human understanding if we zoom out, surrendering our narrow perspectives and worries to the sovereign God of the universe. Yes, there will be challenges, anxiety, even pain. But I believe that through the lens of God’s big story of love and salvation for humanity, there is peace. Not necessarily peace in the form of a clean and quiet household, or children who always get along and diligently finish their lessons with a happy heart, but peace in knowing we belong to a God who adores us, that we have a specific purpose to fulfill in the story of humanity and the war between good and evil. There is peace in knowing how the story ends, and in choosing to fight for the Victor. There is peace on Earth, but only sort of.