“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” — Isaiah 9:6-7
Thank God for this tremendous promise. We have not seen the entire fulfillment of it. Jesus has indeed been given to us. To all who know him, he is indeed a Wonderful Counselor, this son revealed as Mighty God and Everlasting Father. And how we need a Prince of Peace.
Saying so does not imply that Jesus is not the Prince of Peace, but we certainly do not yet see the government on his shoulder. I lose track of how many wars are active in our world at this very moment.
When my dogs are out in the yard and I call them by name come in, they look up to acknowledge their names (at least more often than not) and then go back to whatever they were doing. One in particular specializes in finding weakness in the barriers I have set up to keep her out of the rose bushes and other places they shouldn’t go. The whole human race responds to Jesus pretty much the same way.
During my college days, some people wanted peace in Vietnam so intensely that they through bricks through windows, set fire to cars and buildings, and even rioted in the streets. That’s not how Jesus wants to establish peace!
Today, I see bumper stickers that proclaim, “War is not the answer.” We don’t have peace riots against our current wars, but we certainly do say nasty things about whomever happens to be the President. That’s not how Jesus wants to establish peace, either.
In fact, Ecclesiastes 3:8 tells us there is a time for war and a time for peace. As much as we’d like to, we can’t get peace by demanding that our human leadership provide it. We will not achieve freedom from war until the nations rally to Jesus’ banner. It will happen eventually. In the mean time, what kind of peace can we expect, if Jesus is truly Prince of Peace to us?
As we prepare to celebrate Christmas–doesn’t it feel about a week earlier this year than usual?–lots of us are getting worked up into a stew of frustration about all the preparations we need to make, or think we do. On top of the usual daily routines, which do not stop for holidays, we have shopping, mailing, decorating, and food preparation. We also contend with traffic jams, full parking lots, bad weather, and a worse economy that keep (or at least delay) us from getting it al accomplished.
When we give Jesus our frustrations and trust in him that his kingdom and his righteousness are more desirable than finishing our ever-expanding to-do list, we can find peace in the midst of the bustle. For now and the foreseeable future, peace does not mean an absence of pressure or conflict. It means the ability to stay calm under pressure while conflict swirls around us. Fortunately, that’s as close as a deep breath and a prayer of thanks.