I’m sitting at a coffee shop and thinking about peace. It feels like I am sitting in the very center of serenity. A woman is reading through a section of the local paper. There’s a guy on his phone looking at his laptop; it sounds like work yet it’s undeniably casual. There’s a fire, but no one is a panic because it’s burning in a fireplace, which is the textbook approach to controlling a fire for heat and light. Within this 900 square foot space, we have become the epitome of peace. The lighting is comforting. Even the floors seem warm. There’s no concern that the roof is about to cave in, no worries about the cold, no hunger or thirst. Even the chairs are inviting and are ready to be pulled up to a table, which happens to be the ideal height. We are individually enjoying something together, this peaceful serene setting of a coffee sho. The fire gently burns as time seems to gently roll forward.
We are a people at peace.
I wonder what would happen, though, if we were to go up to a total stranger and ask if they’re at peace. Chances are that most of the peopole here would say that they were. That’s thanks in part to the space we’re in. What’s true, though, is that someone could be sitting here in this place of peace and find themselves on the brink of total disaster. Divorce, pain, financial trouble, kids in jail, dying parents — you name it. If the five people sitting in this coffee shop represent an accurate cross section of the western world, most everyone could cite something in thier lives that is falling apart, keeping them up at night and possibly even terrorizing them to no end.
Someone here could be experiencing their most serene moment right now. They know that the moment they move on, things will get much worse and go back to “normal”. Back to work, where the boss is on their back. Back home, where the garage door opener still doesn’t work right. Back in the driver’s seat of your 89 Corsica which is in desperate need of a head gasket. Yes, we are a people at peace — externally, at least. Internally things may be quite different, which is a bit ironic considering just how wonderful this place feels. Our humanity gives us the ability to sit on things, to make it look like everything is fine, to press on regardless of the trouble. Someone might be just fine and would say that wherever they are, there is peace. Yet we have all gravitated to this serenity. Out of all the places we could go to accomplish work, drink coffee, sit and think — we have all chosen this place of peace.
I’m not saying that something bad happens and we all respond by running to a coffee house; it’s not that logical. But we can draw some conclusions here that are clear indicators of the human condition. We are a people who create and dwell in external peace because we long for total peace. We like it here for many reasons. It’s balanced, it’s easy, it’s comfortable and safe. Maybe our internal lack of peace is easier to ignore when we’re here.
I want peace. I work hard to create it and to keep it around. But do I have that kind of control over peace? Do I have any contorl at all? Could it be that our longing for peace and our building of peaceful places points a finger at our spectacular need for harmony, freedom and order?
Enter Jesus. He’s called the Prince of Peace, a title which implies a couple of things. One, Jesus has a certain kind of authority over peace. Two, if there’s a prince of peace, there’s probably a King of peace. We can now infer a few more things. Peace isn’t automatic; it is controlled by its Lord. Peace doesn’t have a free will — it’s not a “force” to be reckoned with or something we can control because it’s not something WE are prince of. Peace comes as a result of the Prince of Peace saying “go here”, by either its Prince or King.
What is the meaning of a promised Messiah being called the “Prince of Peace”? Did people hear that prophecy and breathe a sigh of relief, thinking that it was so good to know that our lack of peace would now be adressed? Or did they wonder why this was important? Peace? For what? I’ll take the other titles. We could use an Everlasting Father. We could even use a Wonderful Counselor. But Prince of Peace?
It’s kind of like trying to fix something and someone saying “here, try this tool instead”, giving us a hammer for our nail instead of using a blunt object.
“Ooooohhhh” we say. I needed that the whole time! It makes SENSE!
Peace is exactly what we need whether we realize it or not. What a good and fitting promise, given our condition. We lack peace and serenity, especially on the inside. Without a Savior, without justification, without propitiation, we are lost and broken. And we lack peace.
The Bible doesn’t even really try to explain peace to us. Paul says that God’s Peace “passes understanding”. It’s like Jiffy Pop: it’s great, but we don’t know exaclty how it works.
What we DO know, however is that we are in need of Peace — God’s peace. We know that Jesus is the Prince of Peace and that part of His coming as Messiah would be the return of Peace to the people. We know that humans long for peace and strive for it both internally and externally. We may be able to find comfort in our surroundings, but they do nothing for our inner-self. This is the role of God, the King of Peace, and His Son — the Prince of Peace.