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Finding peace on a troubled earth By Athol Dickson

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Finding peace on a troubled earth By Athol Dickson

Post  Admin on Thu 16 Dec 2010, 2:33 pm

Finding peace on a troubled earth

By Athol Dickson
Special to ASSIST News Service
LAGUNA BEACH, CALIFORNIA (ANS) -- And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the
angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not:
for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is
Christ the Lord.. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with
the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:8-14)
Peace is a fitting topic for the Advent season, because the angels' Christmas announcement was, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace...." But
this is often the least peaceful time of year, even for a Christian. As Christmas approaches our thoughts can turn to loved ones who are distant or departed,
and that can make it difficult to find "peace on earth." Surely God knew this would be the case, so what did His angels mean by "peace on earth," exactly?
Most of us know the Hebrew word for peace is shalom, of course. In Greek, it's eirene. In both languages of the Bible the meaning of peace is much more
than a simple feeling of tranquility, or the absence of war. Theologians say the Biblical ideas of shalom and eirene can be defined as wholeness, or completeness.
Also honor. Integrity. Community. Righteousness and justice, maintaining healthy relationships, living out the golden rule, and loving our neighbors as
But is all of that what the angels meant by "peace on earth"?
On that first Christmas Eve, Israel and most of the western world groaned under brutal Roman oppression. Between twenty and thirty percent of the people
in Europe and around the Mediterranean were enslaved. Public entertainment involved fights to the death in coliseums. The government had people beaten,
stripped naked and nailed to crosses where they were left to die of exposure, asphyxiation and dehydration. Forty years after Jesus was himself nailed
to a cross, all of Jerusalem was leveled by the Romans, and the Jewish people were enslaved and scattered throughout the world. The so-called Pax Romana
was nothing but peace by the sword.
So much for wholeness and completeness and integrity and honor and righteousness and community and the golden rule and loving your neighbor as yourself.
So much for peace by any earthly definition, really. Jesus himself said, "In this world you will have trouble," and he said, "Do you think I came to bring
peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division."
But still, on that first Christmas Eve, the angels did say, "Peace on earth."
It's understandable that so many unbelievers think the angels got it wrong. But you know, words have meaning, and we really need to stop and think about
the words these angels used.
Did they say the world was at peace? No.
Did they promise the earth would be at peace? No.
Their exact words were, "Peace on earth," and they were angels after all, so I think we can assume they said exactly what they meant. I think when they
appeared to those shepherds saying, "Peace on the earth," they meant peace had arrived on the earth, right then, right there, and the shepherd could find
peace if they wanted to, lying in a manger.
Who and what is Jesus Christ? People compare him to Confucius or Buddha or Muhammad, as if he was a wise teacher, a religious leader, or a holy prophet,
but none of that is accurate. Consider what Jesus said about himself:
Jesus didn't say "I know the way." He said, "I am the way."
Jesus didn't say "I'll tell you the truth." He said, "I am the truth."
Jesus didn't say "I'll teach you how to live." He said, "I am the life."
So when the angels appeared to the shepherds saying, "Peace on earth," they didn't mean Jesus had arrived to teach us about peace, or to lead us into peace.
When they said, "Peace on earth," they meant Jesus has arrived. Period. "Peace on earth" was just another way of saying, "Jesus is on earth," because Jesus
Christ is Peace.
Continued at:
------------ -----
Athol Dickson's novels have been favorably compared to the work of Octavia Butler (Publisher's Weekly) and Flannery O'Connor (The New York Times). One
of his novels is an Audie Award winner. All five of his most recent novels have been finalists for the Christy Award and three have won, including his
most recent novel, Lost Mission. Athol lives with his wife in southern California.

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