Bishop Noel A. Pantoja
National Director, Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favour rests.” (Luke 2:14)
This was the doxology of the angelic hosts on the night of the first Christmas at the announcement of the birth of the Messiah.
The Christmas story is about ‘peace on earth.’ God is reconciling Himself to people who have sinned against Him and offers peace that transcends human limitations. God took the initiative by sending His only begotten Son, Jesus, who paid the penalty of sin, that all who trust in Him may be forgiven and have new life with God. This is the peace of God.
This ‘transcendent peace’ is also most important because it opens our hearts and minds to a reality of peace beyond what this world gives. The world offers pseudo-peace: supposed peace through cessation of wars; through suppression or repression by force; through economic manipulation and development aggression; and, supposed peace and prosperity through the destruction of nature. The Christmas story tells us that God’s peace became a human being in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Through Jesus, the peace of God became immanent — with us. This ‘immanent peace’ is the Peace of Christ, characterized by love. The public expression of this love is justice. The Peace of Christ is justice-based.
All of us are invited into this peace by allowing ourselves to be embraced by God’s Spirit. The fruit of God’s Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). These are universal values. No human law exists that prohibits these values.
We need this transcendent-immanent peace as we face the New Year, especially as we face the great challenge to choose our next set of national leaders. In the Bible, we are told of a great leader called Moses. He had an adviser named Jethro who said: “Select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens” (Exodus 18:21). The wisdom from this statement can be applied in our context. Our national leaders must be wisely selected, capable, transparent, God-fearing, trustworthy, hates dishonest gain, efficient, and effective.
May the Spirit of God embrace us all this Christmas and the coming New Year with the transcendent-immanent Peace of Christ as we allow God to use us to help transform our nation.
BISHOP NOEL A. PANTOJA
National Director, Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches – PCEC