The Shalom of Advent (Part 1)

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1

Much is discussed at Christmas about how Jesus came to earth to bring peace. Most of the carols and stories center around Jesus bringing peace to all men on earth. But, when people think about Jesus bringing peace to the world, they often think about the absence of wars, calamity, dissension between people, etc. While these things are all true and will be the focus of my next post, most importantly, Jesus came to bring peace between us and God. In order for Jesus to bring peace to the world, he first had to bring peace into the heart of man.

Let’s talk about the heart for a moment. The basic Christian understanding of the heart is that it encompasses our soul and our spirit. The soul includes our mind, will and emotions. The spirit is translated in scripture as “breath”. Our spirit is literally the breath of God in us. The spirit is the part of us that is connected to God in whose image we bear. Our spirit can either be led by our own spirit or the Spirit of God.

So, what does the Bible have to say about the condition of the human heart. Jeremiah 17:9 states that the heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately sick”. The natural condition of the human heart is that it is deceitful and sick. This heart sickness puts a separation between us and God. It keeps us from being at peace with God or from experiencing the shalom of God. But, God loves us so much, He doesn’t want that separation to last forever so He did something about it. He sent Jesus.

“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” Colossians 1:20

The act of reconciliation is the act of bringing peace or harmony back to a relationship. Before Jesus, our relationship to God was a broken one, not one filled with peace but with disharmony. When Jesus was born that Christmas morning all those thousand of years ago, his ministry of reconciliation between us and God began. His birth and his death are the acts of reconciliation that had to take place so that we could experience shalom in our relationship with God.

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

This Advent season, let’s remember to praise God for the “heav’n born Prince of Peace” who was “born that man no more may die” but instead be reconciled to the very creator of the universe who loves us without measure.

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