PAX ROMANA or PAX CHRISTUS
What do you desire?
The Peace offered by this world?
The Peace offered by God through Christ?
God offered two passages of hope for all of mankind with His promise to extend His invitation of PEACE for all who will accept the invitation:
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. The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:6-7 (HCSB)
“They will live in the land that I gave to My servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They will live in it forever with their children and grandchildren, and My servant David will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. I will establish and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be My people. When My sanctuary is among them forever, the nations will know that I, the Lord, sanctify Israel.” Ezek 37:25-28 (HCSB)
God according to His Word has given each of us a choice to make in this world: Continue to live in a state of enmity, or be restored to a state of amity with our Creator!
- am·i·ty – friendliness and peaceful relations
- en·mi·ty – hostility: or, the extreme ill will or hatred that exists between enemies, e.g. trying to resolve age-old enmities
During even Christmas we face a constant reminder of the choice we have to make. Look around our communities and see for yourself. What has Christmas become? Signs throughout the community reflect the message of Seasons Greetings and Happy Holidays in store windows and in front of homes everywhere. Even schools now declare a Winter break, not Christmas Break. It seems no one wants to offend others, so they seek to be politically correct to maintain peace in this world. But, what about offending the author of Christmas? What about maintaining peace with God who sent His Son Christ into this world to restore the world to Him.
Granted Christmas is a church created holiday to recognize the birth of Christ, e.g. Christ Mass, established about the 4th century A.D.; it was intentionally timed to replace the pagan winter festivals that were prevalent in the Western world at the time. Yet, Christmas still offers the same choice to the world: Honor Christ by celebrating the true meaning of Christmas, or continue in the pagan revelry of the original lustful partying of the winter solstice festivals with of its symbols and traditions.
Is Christmas as it was established by the church still worth celebrating? Is it best to accept the secular view or cling to the spiritual intent? But, before you decide, consider: Even the secular world-view acknowledges the historical reality of Jesus:
- Is not Christ still the focus of the world every time we look at our calendar: AD, anno domini and BC, before Christ designations for dating the events of the world? Even the secular and growing popularity of the terms BCE, before the Common era and CE, common era terms still use Christ’s birth as the divider of history’s dating.
- Is the Christ of Christmas the same Jesus, the one who led a movement from God that toppled governments and changed the world? Within 300 years of His death and resurrection, the same Empire that crucified Him, accepted Him and His Word as the truth for the World- that same Roman Empire that erected the Cross, also built some of the earliest churches to honor Christ.
- Is the Christ of Christmas the same Jesus, the one who God used to change the lives of millions of people since He walked among us ever since?
So what is so wrong in wishing someone a Merry Christmas? To say something is merry, even in our modern day, states that it is a wish for someone to be full of or experience lively cheerfulness or enjoyment; a wish for sharing one’s delight and happiness in one’s life with another person. Therefore, what would inspire someone who knows the joy of Christ to offer a greeting like Merry Christmas? Should I have to say anything more?
Christmas is actually a contraction of the original church worship service called Chrestus Massae, or Christ Mass, instituted by the early Church over 1600 years ago. It was to be a special worship service to celebrate and remember God’s love gift to the world through the birth of His Son, Christ Jesus…the incarnation of God as an infant child born in the most humble of circumstances and setting.
The word “mass” comes from the Greek word, maza, or Latin word massa, which refers to barley bread. In other words, a mass worship service is to invite the presence of Christ to be within us during this time of celebration and worship. Have you opened your heart and sought Christ to reveal His presence to you, as you and your family celebrate Christmas?
So, I ask this question this Christmas Eve: Who is missing out on the real celebration of Christmas? Those desiring just to have another reason to have a festive holiday celebration that involves receiving and giving of presents they most likely cannot afford, hold elaborate festive parties to over indulge in food and other refreshments, or to compete in decorating their homes and businesses to reflect all the true commercialism that has little to do with the real reason of the season.
With that message off my chest, please allow God to share His intended meaning for Christmas! Christmas is certainly to be a celebration time, but also a time of remembrance, thanks, praise, and worship, as well. It is a time to celebrate the arrival of God into the world through His Son, the Christ child of Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago. It is to be a celebration of thanks to God for sending the greatest gift we could ever wish to receive – genuine peace with God! A peace that is only found in a relationship offered through accepting Christ into our hearts, not just once a year on Christmas, but every single day of our lives.
We should joyfully rejoice in the historical fact that Paul testified to in Galatians 4:4,5: But when the time arrived that was set by God the Father, God sent his Son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law. Thus we have been set free to experience our rightful heritage. (The Message)
What made the time of Christ’s birth the proper time?
The angels themselves proclaimed that the Prince of Peace had been born that day. Was it because of a period in history known as PAX ROMANA – a 200 year reign of man-made peace orchestrated by the reign of Augustus Caesar, beginning in 27 B.C., lasting until about 186 A.D. with the end of the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius? No major wars or conflict erupted during this period. Roman legends were diverted to peace-keeping duties throughout the expanse of the empire that spanned from North Africa, the Middle East and most all of Europe, including England. This empire boundary was what was referred to as the “known world.” The highways and waterways were policed against any thieves, bandits and pirates. Those captured breaking the laws were punished most severely for disturbing the peace in the empire.
Yet, was such a significant era of peace the works of man or God?
Consider what took place during this era of peace?
- Christ was born in the most troubled and embattled region in the history of the world, yet there was a reign of peace allowing safe travel…
- Christ grew up and His Word was written and expressed in a time when koine, common Greek, was the universal language of the empire…
- The Apostles were able to be protected during the launch of the early church, which grew to change lives throughout all of the empire’s reach (even during intermittent times of persecution by the government)…
Was it feasible that even the mighty Caesar, the Emperor of Rome, have orchestrated the events, circumstances, and all the people necessary to prepare the world for the arrival of the Prince of Peace, the Savior of the World?
Do you know this morning with all your heart that the Lord is your source of GENUINE, EVERLASTING PEACE, and that He alone offers the only kind of PEACE that you will change your life –
Let’s conclude sharing the words of the Gospel of Luke telling the story of the angels proclaiming the birth announcement of the Prince of Peace… Luke 2:8-14 (MSG):
There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:
“Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please Him.”
As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.
Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told! Luke 2:8-20 (MSG)
From the testimony of the shepherds and Mary, as recorded in Luke’s Gospel account: Our response to the Christmas message should lead be that of celebration!
Finally, in God’s design, there are two forms or definitions of peace each of us should understand and experience:
- Peace with God personally, a peace that brings a state of being calm, quiet, and a feeling that is free from any disturbance within us – with God and others…
- Peace with God corporately, a peace that reflects its synonym, harmony, as such it should be a corporate peace that offers freedom from conflict, disagreements and selfish acts that disrupt the relationships that exist within the body of Christ.
Remember, a symphony is the harmonious working together of individuals in a corporate effort to produce beautiful music that draws a crowd to hear what is being played. However, when any one instrument decides to play its own horn or beat its own drum, the peace and harmony of the message is disrupted and we lose our intended audience.
This Christmas season: What peace do you seek?
PAX Romana, the peace that is from the world’s perspective, or
PAX Christus, the peace that is from God’s perspective?
Merry Christmas, or should I say “Christ Mass” as we celebrate and worship the greatest love gift that world has ever known… but also, remember – there is more than a story about a baby being born. A Savior would soon be introduced to reveal how man could have real lasting, eternal peace with God the Father!
(Read the rest of the story, and by faith accept it to guide your life, and PAX Christus will be real to you!)