10 Dec Beholding Glory & Enjoying Peace
A quick glance around our lives and our land shows us that the world does not work the way it was supposed to: families are divided over holiday plans, communities are divided over the proper use of lethal force by law enforcement, and governments are divided over how to best address the global threat of terrorist groups. A quick glance at the realities of our lives and the headlines in our land reveals things are not the way they are supposed to be. What we see in our families, our communities, and across the globe is a lack of horizontal harmony that the Bible calls peace. Rather than relationships between families, races, cultures, & ethnicities existing in harmony there is hostility like two voices that are working against each other rather than with each other as they compete to outshine rather than complement the other. Yet into this very moment in history the declaration of the angels in Luke 2:14 rings out, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” The angels proclaim peace has come but how do we enjoy this peace they proclaim?
The “and” situated between the lines of verse 14 tells us there is a connection between beholding the glory of God in Jesus Christ and enjoying the relational harmony the angels declare has now come on the earth at the birth of God’s Son. Here is the connection: beholding the glory of God in the sending of His Son for sin and sinners is the only thing powerful enough to pave the path to true peace. In other words, our only hope for peace on earth, a horizontal relational harmony among our friends & family, different ethnicities & cultures, those in authority and those under authority is beholding the glory, beauty, and majesty of God in the sending of His Son for sin and sinners. Only if we look at the birth of God’s Son with sheer amazement like the angels and say this is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen, do we ever have any hope of enjoying the relational harmony that the angels say has come in the birth of Jesus!
How does beholding the glory of God in Jesus Christ create relational harmony? It minimizes everything that we compete for, compare over, and attempt to control others to attain in the midst of our relationships. Only when the image on the desktop screen of our lives is so beautiful, glorious, and majestic as God in flesh giving Himself to and for sin and sinners, will we be compelled and have the power to close all the windows of our competition, comparison, and control. Like windows on our computer being minimized and receding into the background all the things that we compete for, compare over, and try to control recede into the background when we behold the beauty, majesty, and glory of Jesus Christ. Only when we are no longer trying to achieve glory for ourselves through these “windows” but awestruck by the glory that has been revealed by God in Jesus Christ will we cease from competition, comparison, and control. So rather than meeting as armed soldiers ready to fight we are able to meet as redeemed sinners ready to repent and forgive. Only when two people are beholding the glory of God in Jesus Christ sent for sin and sinners and saying, “this is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen” is there any possibility for peace. Otherwise the competition for, comparison of, and attempts to control “our glory” leads us to conflict, strife, division, and war.
What makes the birth of Jesus Christ so glorious? He is the one person in human history subsequent to the fall that possessed perfect horizontal harmony with God the Father while everyone else is born at war with God. From all eternity the Son has existed in perfect peace, horizontal harmony, with the Father and during His incarnation Jesus Christ lived in perfect horizontal harmony with the Father until He is raised up upon the cross. In that moment Jesus lost the horizontal harmony He had enjoyed from all eternity with the Father as He cries out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In that moment Jesus loses the peace with the Father that He had enjoyed for all eternity and because He lost it you can have it if you will look at the manger and the cross and say with the angels, “This is the most amazing thing I have ever seen in my life!” Only by beholding the glory of God in Jesus Christ with sheer amazement can you enjoy this peace. If you have access to this peace you should live as an agent of peace. Are you meeting others as a redeemed sinner or armed soldier? Are you settling for war when you can have peace? Are you settling for hostility when there can be harmony?