Christianity 201

December 1, 2022

The Grinch that Stole Peace

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:30 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

by Clarke Dixon

Do you feel peaceful yet? Every year we bring out the Advent candle of peace and every year it stays lit for about an hour or so, depending on the length of my sermon. Then we get back into the real world which is full of conflict, wars and rumors of wars.

This year it is Ukraine. Who will it be next year? Then for some some people heading into the impending family Christmas gatherings can feel like heading into a war zone. Conflict can make you cynical about candles and prayers for peace.

You’ve heard of how the Grinch stole Christmas. Today we begin looking at other things that can steal Christmas starting with how wars and rumors of wars, plus conflicts closer to home, can steal our peace at Christmas.

So what are we to do?

Watch for the peace God will bring.

Like Isaiah when God’s people were in a terrible state:

This is a vision that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:
2 In the last days, the mountain of the LORD’s house
will be the highest of all—
the most important place on earth.
It will be raised above the other hills,
and people from all over the world will stream there to worship.
3 People from many nations will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of Jacob’s God.
There he will teach us his ways,
and we will walk in his paths.”
For the LORD’s teaching will go out from Zion;
his word will go out from Jerusalem.
4 The LORD will mediate between nations
and will settle international disputes.
They will hammer their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will no longer fight against nation,
nor train for war anymore.

Isaiah 2:1-4 (NLT)

Though the peace of God’s people was threatened and seemed far off, Isaiah looked forward with great hope. He looked forward to a new day when God’s people would experience peace, no longer fearing empires like the conquering Assyrian empire, the war-mongering Babylonian empire, or the powerful empires to come, of the Greek and Romans. All of these empires trained for war, using force and the threat of war to conquer and keep peace. God’s people might have hoped that the day would come when it would be their turn to be a mighty empire. But Isaiah had hope for a much better day, a new day, not of empire, but of the Kingdom of God.

They will hammer their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will no longer fight against nation,
nor train for war anymore.

Isaiah 2:4 (NLT)

When we are tempted to be cynical and think that peace will never come, we can take the long view, like Isaiah, and watch for the new day of peace God will bring. It might be 20 years from now, 2000 years from now, or 20 minutes from now, but there will be peace.

While watching for God to bring peace, don’t wait to pursue peace.

While we wait for God to bring a new day, we don’t need to wait to step into a new day. We may not feel like we can have an impact on wars around the globe, but we can have an impact on the conflicts closer to home. Some of the things we can do are….

Pursue humility, having the same kind of humility of Jesus (see Philippians 2). People who are humble tend to start fewer conflicts. While we can hold on to what we think is right in a dispute, simply thinking of the possibility, and saying “maybe you could be right” can change the tone from conflict to conversation. People who are humble tend to have fewer conflicts and experience greater peace in their relationships.

Pursue love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (See Gal 5:22,23). Even people who have important disagreements with us will find it hard to be vicious with us if our character and posture is marked by what Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit. People whose lives are marked by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control tend to have fewer conflicts and experience greater peace.

Pursue wisdom. “Remaining calm is the best way to take the wind out of an angry man’s sails” is one of my favourite proverbs and is fitting for an occasion of conflict. You will not find that one in the Bible, but it is wise. The Bible, as well as containing wisdom, pushes us toward wisdom, for acting well in each and every circumstance. People who are wise tend to have fewer conflicts and experience greater peace.

Pursue reconciliation, like God does. God came to us in Jesus, that is what Christmas is about, the incarnation where “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). God came to us, like us, in Jesus. We killed him. God loves us anyway and offers forgiveness. In Jesus we see God’s grace, mercy, and a love that is marked by fierce forgiveness. If we, in our relationships with others, are like God in the divine relationship with us, there will be fewer conflicts and greater peace.

When I was thirteen I joined the Air Cadets where I learned how to polish my boots, iron my uniform, teach classes, and fly airplanes. When I turned 18 I left Air Cadets and joined the Army Reserves where I leaned how to kill people. There is a lot to learn in waging wars. This is one reason Ukraine has been doing as well as it has against as formidable a foe as Russia. There is a lot of training that goes into waging a war and we Canadians, among others, have been there training them for war. There is also a lot to learn in waging peace. While we thank the service members of the Canadian Armed Forces for serving us by training for and being ready for war, let us commit to being peacemakers.

There he will teach us his ways,
and we will walk in his paths.”….
Nation will no longer fight against nation,
nor train for war anymore.

Isaiah 5:3,4 (selected NLT)

When wars, rumors of wars, and conflicts closer to home steal our peace, let us watch for God to bring peace, but let’s not wait to pursue peace.


Clarke Dixon is the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Cobourg, Ontario. Devotionals here first appear on his blog, Thinking Through Scripture.

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: