Peace to men

  • Note, I am using men, or man, in the full sense as in Genesis 1 v 27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Over Christmas I found myself musing over the passage from Luke 2 that reads:

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men”.

Only that’s the popular version. The full version has something more.

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests”.

That version is less comfortable, with the implication that there are men upon whom His favour does not rest, and who will therefore not know His peace.

But that’s the thing, the Bible is not comfortable, God is not comfortable and Jesus is uncompromising. To quote Bonhoeffer – grace is free, but it is not cheap. To leave the sentence unfinished may give us warm gooey feelings and make us feel better, but it has all the spiritual nutritional value of candy.

Jesus was not born a man to make us feel better about ourselves, but to save us from the cold and dead hearts that make us enemies of God and estranged from each other. Jesus did not come to give us happiness, with all the transience that word implies, but a deep joy of a salvation and genuine transformation.

My prayer is that God will save us from a shallow Churchianity that serves to inoculate us against the real thing; that we would wake up to realise our true state, and the immense cost and value of His sacrifice on the cross.

That we would come to know Him and His salvation more deeply, which is both freely provided and requires the sacrifice of our whole lives.

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