Sloppy agapē (sacrificial love) characterizes incidents when in the name of love, and hoping to keep the peace, we refuse to address seemingly impenetrable issues, bad choices, and/or volitional sins. But any peace we may experience in such circumstances is artificial and never lasts. Some Old Testament prophets would give a false sense of security, promising peace when there was only trouble ahead. Not Isaiah! His recount of witnessing an enthroned Holy God leading to his confession of dwelling with people of unclean lips is spellbinding (See Isaiah 6:1-7). Yet, just as the prophet confronted people with the truth of their sins, he now in Isaiah 40:2, speaks these words of comfort:
“Speak kindly to Jerusalem; and call out to her, that her warfare has ended, that her guilt has been removed, that she has received of the Lord’s hand, double for all her sins.”
Between the words “speak kindly to Jerusalem” and “her guilt has been removed” is the sobering acknowledgment that sinful choices and actions have consequences. While I am not suggesting that all hardship is due to our sins, I am saying some troubles are a direct result of them. Peace can only come to us when we are honest about such failures and missteps. It is in those, “uh oh” moments, we can confess our sins, and make mid-course corrections. When we do, we are given a deep inner peace that the world cannot give and cannot take away (John 16:33). Rather than paying double for our sins, we can turn to the one who has canceled the debt of our sins (Colossians 2:15).
Advent invites us to take inventory of our lives and consider if there are any harmful ways in us (Psalm 139: 23-24). When we redirect our lives, we will be given, “a-ha” moments of profound wisdom and experience the peace of God even in chaotic times. We are placed on a peaceful path where our daily companion is the Prince of Peace.
One final thought: The scriptures frequently speak of the peace of God. It’s the peace that comes from being in a relationship with the ultimate peacemaker. It’s what the angels sang about at the arrival of Jesus.
May we join them in triumphant song this Advent, this Christmas!