December 28, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Luke 2:13-14
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
We love the good news shared with the shepherds by the angels: “Peace on Earth.” Yes, this peace includes the absence of conflict and inner tranquility. But God’s peace entails so much more. It is life as God intended it to be, life infused by harmony, justice, fruitfulness, and love. We have the opportunity to bring this peace to every sector of life, including our workplaces.
This devotion is part of the series: Work in Light of Christmas.
One of the most familiar and beloved Christmas messages is “Peace on Earth.” You see this on Christmas cards, billboards, store windows, and church bulletins. Even people who don’t believe the basic story of Christmas can embrace “Peace on Earth.” It sounds wonderful, especially in a time of so much conflict in our world.
The phrase “Peace on Earth,” as you probably know, comes from the angels who visited the shepherds at the time of Jesus’s birth. In the classic King James Version, the angels said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (Luke 2:14, KJV). Most contemporary translations portray God’s peace as given, in particular, “among those whom he favors!” (2:14, NIV).
Notice that the peace celebrated by the angels is “on earth.” It is not the peace experienced in Heaven, except insofar as you might say Heaven’s peace is coming to earth through Jesus. Rather, the peace highlighted in the angelic message is one we experience in this life, on this earth, as well as in the age to come.
But what is the nature of this peace? It includes what we tend to associate with peace, namely, the absence of war. As it says in Psalm 46:8-9, “Come, behold the works of the LORD; see what desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.” Peace on earth also includes the inner peace we experience through our relationship with God (see Philippians 4:6-7). But the biblical notion of peace, which we often refer to with the Hebrew word shalom, consists of far more than this. It is life as God intended it to be, life infused by harmony, justice, fruitfulness, and love. Biblical peace is not just “everyone getting along.” Rather, it is people living in right relationships with others, through which all can flourish.
Thus, even in our daily work, we have the chance to experience and extend God’s peace. Minimally, we can be people who seek to nurture harmonious relationships with our colleagues and to address conflict with Spirit-inspired wisdom in order to make peace. We can be quick to apologize and eager to reconcile. But, beyond this, in our work we can express a commitment to God’s shalom, both by confronting injustice where we see it and by creating just systems so people can flourish in their work and their overall lives.
Christ was born to bring peace on earth. Ultimately, this peace is a result of his saving work through the cross and resurrection. Because of what Christ has done for us, we can begin to experience in this life the abundant peace of God. As his people, we become peacemakers in every context of life, including our workplaces. There, through us, God will manifest “peace on earth” as we wait for the fullness of peace that will come when Christ returns.
When you hear the phrase “Peace on Earth,” what comes to mind?
Are you a peacemaker through your work? In what ways?
How might you be an ever more effective instrument of God’s peace in your workplace?
Pray about your answer to the last question. Then, do whatever the Lord puts on your heart.
Gracious God, thank you for the good news of “peace on earth.” Thank you for caring, not just about Heaven, but also about this world. Thank you for the promise of all-encompassing peace.
Lord, help me to be a peacemaker through my work. May what I do each day and how I do it contribute to your shalom.
Today, we also pray for our world, so broken, so filled with conflict, so much in need of your peace. May you “peace on earth” become real on this earth. Guide the leaders of nations to your peace. May businesses and schools and media outlets and other institutions be transformed by your peace. And may those of us who have received your peace through Christ be peacemakers in every office and store, every family and neighborhood, every church and community group.
We ask, Lord, with gratitude and hope, for the gift of “peace on earth.” Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project’s online commentary. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: God’s Presence in the Midst of Disaster (Psalm 46).
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.