So many fights. So much anger. I’m exhausted and angry and kind of just in need of some hope. I’m reading Luke, and I get past the Christmas story and see one of my all time favorite passages in chapter four.
So Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. Satan reminded Him that He could gain power by feeding the hungry or by ruling in the government or by taking control of the temple. But instead He prayed, fasted, and then walked into the temple and read these words about Himself:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
It is around this time that I begin to fist pump in excitement. I love this. I love the picture of Christ using a revolutionary idea of community to set the world on its head.
But then, a few chapters later, Jesus dies. He comes back for a minute, but then He goes to heaven. And even though the angels shouted about peace and goodwill when He came, they are terse when He leaves. “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Okay. That’s less helpful. Apparently we aren’t supposed to just sit and wait for Jesus to come back. But here’s the issue:
We were promised peace and goodwill and liberty and favor…right? But this place doesn’t feel so peaceful. There are people dying all over the world, people who love Jesus. There are families fighting. There are hearts being continually pounded by pain and loneliness and anger…it’s all broken. The world is all broken and it feels more apt to remember Jesus telling us that He was also bringing a sword. That we were sheep sent out to the wolves. That we will be persecuted and abandoned. There is some bad news, not that we needed to hear that. If I know anything at all, it is that life down here is not always peaceful. That I cannot quite get free of sin or anger no matter how hard I try. Trust me, I get it.
But then…are we being punked or something?
It’s like an echo in my ears. “You are the salt. You are the light.” We waited a moment, to receive Him, and now that we have Him we are the body. We are the church. We are the plan to bring it all about.
“In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.”
It is Christmas and we celebrate the incarnation. Celebrate peace between God and men. Celebrate that He will return. Hope for it. Pray for it.
But in the meantime…
“You will be my witnesses”
We are not left alone. We have the Spirit. We have one another. I read it as I am aching because there is no peace in this house full of broken people. ”Dum spiro spero. While I breathe, I hope”.
There is no peace apart from him. There is no freedom apart from Him. And if He is in us, perhaps we had better work on making Him visible.
While we are breathing, there is hope. It is in us, and we desperately need to release it.
We make peace, and we are blessed to be called sons and daughters of God. And it might just look like using the kind words instead of the angry ones. It might look like loving the people different than us. It might look like putting someone else above us, even when that is the most unpleasant thing we can imagine.
“Truly He taught us to love one another. His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother. And in His name all oppression shall cease.”
Peace doesn’t just happen. What we were promised here on earth was trouble. But we carry hope inside of us. We get the chance to make God present once again.
The incarnation hasn’t stopped. He is still among us. He has sent a helper.
He came to bring peace and freedom. But when He was tempted to use force or government or anything like that…He chose to use us.
(there is ice outside, coating all the trees and buildings and rocks and stuff. It’s kind of creepy. But if you touch it, or hold your hand on it, it starts to melt. Your hand gets kind of cold, but the ice melts. Because you have warm blood inside of you.)