An Invasion of Peace

Aslan is on the move.

Imagine being a part of the resistance network in an occupied country, waiting for word from your commander to trickle down through the ranks. Imagine hearing that he has arrived behind enemy lines, that he is moving into position, setting up an operations base for an internal assault, an invasion from within.

It’s always winter but never Christmas.

The land you are in is in turmoil; there is no peace. Though there are many who promise peace, their peace is temporary, unsettling, and anxious. That’s not peace. You know there can be no real peace unless there is a defeat of the enemy. And the way things have been going, right now the enemy seems to be on top. It isn’t safe to let down your guard without risking your life. And so you wait. And then you see a resistance fighter you recognize as one of your own making his way toward you with the news.

A baby has come, delivered by a young woman, a virgin, and lying in a manger. It is not merely the commander, it is the King! Even though his form is that of a helpless baby, his arrival is heralded by a sky full of heavenly hostformidable representatives of the Almighty Sovereign. Though it was a nighttime invasion and unseen by all but a few mortals, it cannotnor does notgo unnoticed by the principalities and powers of the air. Though it is a mere babe who lies sleeping in a manger, the military host of heaven have mustered for their sovereign’s review. God is advancing into occupied territory, claiming his own, and appointing his righteous and divine Son, the God-Man, to lay waste to death and take victory over the grave (1 Corinthians 15:55). “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). Jesus may have arrived as a baby, but he is every bit of a force to be reckoned with. 

‘Course he isn’t safe. . . . He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.

When the angels declare, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”, the peace is not promised to all men. Peace is availed to some but not all on the other side of the chasm from Holy God. Some are called out and declared as being pleasing to God, but not according to any inherent virtue or merit. None are righteous, “no, not one.” The Lord of all Creation pleases himself by extending mercy, quickening faith, growing the desire to please him. His peace is all the more precious because it hasn’t been earned. There is no risk of losing it because it is held fast by his immutable nature, and so it is the truest of an everlasting peace, unheard of in this world of trouble and tribulation.

These soldier-messengers of God began their proclamations to Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds with, “Fear not!” No wonder they responded with joy and relief; these frightful creatures had come in peace to them, meaning that they were among those found to be pleasing to God! And yet, for the multitudes who despise God’s pleasure, who find the intrusion of Jesus into their world cause for rebellion, who reject the rule of the Son and plot against him, they have much to fear. To them, Jesus has promised the sword. They face the destruction that will come to those who are in darkness (1 Thessalonians 5:3-5) as long as they remain in defiance of the conquering lamb. 

Think of how merciful he is: if Christ had not come, the earth would have gone on undisturbed in its sin and its guilt until the day of its doom. But he has come to take away the sin and guilt of those who please him. The first Advent bridged the gap and made it possible for us to join the side of the Prince of Peace, him who destroyed the power of death and bound the strong man. He stands ready in heaven for the command to lead the hosts back to earth for the final victory when all sin and darkness and iniquity will be cast into hell. Paradoxically, now in this space between the two Advents, he gives aid to the enemy! There are more of the rebel hordes out there who, like us, don’t deserve his love and grace, and yet are given time and power to repent and believe.

The true message of Christmas is about two invasions. One was necessary to cast out the usurper, the one who by pretense occupied God’s territory. For him and his followers, there is no peace for those who rebel to the end. The other invasion was necessary to pierce my stony heart and remove the idol of self that resided there. For me, Christmas heralds peace and joy!

Both of these invasions are addressed in one of the greatest Christmas carols of all, “Joy to the World”: 

Joy to the World, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Will you spread the good news of the arrival of the King? Will you alert the citizens of the nations that his rule of truth and grace extends to the corners of the earth, far as the curse is found? Will you remind the hesitant and dual-hearted not to fear “those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28)?

“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,

And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.” 

Photo by Emily Sevenoaks on Unsplash

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