Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:16–24
Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Don’t stifle the Spirit. Don’t despise prophecies, but test all things. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil.
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely. And may your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will do it. (CSB)
For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
He Will Be Named Prince of Peace
Peace has been a bit of a hard thing to come by for many of us in 2020, hasn’t it? On top of the pandemic that has contributed to so much inner turmoil, we’ve seen racial division deepened all over North America, important protests turned violent, one of the ugliest elections in recent memory, and armed conflict in areas where our beloved mutual friends and missions partners are at work. It seems like you can’t even post a recipe for gingerbread men on Facebook without anyone from close family members to forgotten high school acquaintances getting into a virtual yelling match about something or other.
But while the rest of the world waits for a president or a vaccine or some new legislation to restore order and hope, we know that Peace has been born for us and his Kingdom is without end. The effects of sin sometimes make it terribly difficult to see the impact of his rule and reign, but it is taking hold in every act of faithfulness, compassion, hospitality, and mercy, whether visible or hidden, performed by those who follow Him.
Toward the end of his first letter to the church at Thessalonica, the apostle Paul calls those believers who were experiencing persecution and suffering to be people of comfort, help, rejoicing, prayer, thanksgiving, and goodness. And then he prays over them:
“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely. And may your whole spirit, soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 23, emphasis mine).
It is the God of peace who is at work to accomplish our sanctification and our good fruit. Is your experience of life with God right now an ever-deepening experience of peace? When the people around you – your friends, neighbours, fellow church members, coworkers, classmates, spouse, children – look at you, do they see a life devoted to and transformed by the God – and Prince – of Peace? The hope of Christ is the hope of reconciliation; of life; of flourishing. It’s my prayer that you would know that hope this Advent season; that by knowing Him more deeply you would be filled with a peace that defies logic, reason, and understanding and that the name of the one you serve would be undeniable and powerful in its effect.
“He who calls you is faithful; he will do it” (verse 24).
Nick Thiessen – Senior Pastor at Zion Baptist Community Church in Edmonton, Alberta, and EYELET Member