|A few years back I was in the capital city of a large Muslim country. It was the first week of December and, much to my amazement, Christmas was in the air.|
In a strange form of common grace, red and white stockings, candy canes and decorated Christmas trees were on display. I wondered, Did these people know what these Christmas things were all about? So strange… but on second thought, not really. Here in our own context, in the West, many celebrate with no real concept of Christmas. The story recorded in Luke 2 is so different than our cultural understanding of Christmas that, frankly, they are almost completely disconnected from each other.
The story itself is countercultural. A baby as God and King. The announcement heralded to lowly shepherds. The location of the event. The gift-giving visitors. The Christmas story itself is supracultural. We have tried to tame it with Santa Claus and candy canes, but the story of Jesus’ Kingdom coming to earth is so much bigger.
Luke 2:14 says, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
The peace noted here is not shalom peace, which is little different, but rather “a set of favorable circumstances involving peace and tranquility.” Another way to think of it is to be at rest because of the situation around you. This is the same word, by the way, that we find in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
As you celebrate Christmas this year be at peace. No matter the culture you are in, the message of the Gospel gives us peace.
Dr. J. Ted Esler
President, Missio Nexus