PEACE

A passage from Handel Brown’s “Keeping the Spirit of Christmas” published in peace1965: In her famous play The Man Born to Be King, Dorothy L. Sayers makes one of the Wise Men say, “I speak for the sorrowful people.  We rise up to labor, and lie down to sleep, and the night is only a pause between one burden and another.  Fear is our daily companion, fear of want, the fear of war, the fear of cruel death, and of still more cruel life….But all this we could bear if we knew that we did not suffer in vain; That God was beside us in the struggle, sharing the miseries of His own world.  For the riddle that torments the world is this, Shall sorrow and Love be reconciled at last?” The Wise Men asked, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2).  When Jesus was crucified, a notice was nailed to the Cross, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (John 19:19)…. He is not King because of what He has. He is not King even because of what He does.  He is King because of what He is… The King came that first Christmas, seeking our allegiance and loyalty…We talk about commitment, we sing about it, we even pray about it.  We will gladly give up anything which we never really wanted to retain, but the fact is, we are not prepared for an absolutely complete and unconditional surrender of ourselves to Christ.  Then we gripe about the meager success of the Church! We want Peace.  “Peace” is an anointed word.  It is the grand passion of our age.  Peace has become an obsession with us.  We want Peace at any price.  We cannot have Peace at any price.  We are so haunted with one aspect of Peace–the absence of war–that our conception of it has become distorted.  You cannot isolate one element in Peace and say, “That is Peace.”  It is not Peace.  It may be one ingredient in Peace.  It can be nothing more.  Even then, it is a negative idea, and it is always a poor principle to build on a negative. Just as you cannot isolate one element in Peace, so you cannot isolate Peace itself.  It is not an end in itself.  Like happiness, it is a by-product.  Peace can never be divorced from Righteousness.  That is why the Bible never separates them.  When we have Righteousness, we shall not have to worry about Peace.  “Peace on earth” is “among men with whom He is well pleased” (Luke 2:14).  While the earth remains, there will never be a time when men will not be called upon to sacrifice themselves for Righteousness’ sake.  The Cross will not die out of human experience, nor need we fear that it will ever become an easy thing in this world to do right… The scandal of the relaxed moral nerve penetrates every facet of our civilization.  We want the benefits of the Kingdom without the rule of the King.  When we crown Him King of our lives and behave like His subjects, the benefits of His Kingdom will follow. Ubi Deus ibi pax. When we ask Him to reign over us, Jesus reveals Himself to us as King, though not to terrify us.  He comes with a word of power matched to our need.  He comes in all the radiance of His glory, but He does not come mechanically, with an automatic sameness.  The divine response to human needs is as varied as the needs to which it responds. This is the witness of the New Testament.  It is confirmed by the testimony of multitudes of humble believers in every age and clime. The mechanics of His coming to the individual are as obscure as the manner by which He came to Mary.  It, too, is a Miracle.  It is the work of the same God who clothed Himself with human garb in Bethlehem long ago.  He who came to this world in Jesus has never left it.  He is its King.

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