“the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death
to guide our feet into the path of peace”
in the opening chapter of Luke, you find these 4 lines closing out Zechariah’s song.
and when i read that as a Christian, there are two broad responses that my heart can have:
“thank You God, that You shine Your light and truth and love on those people who are in darkness, who live in the shadow of death… please fix them”
“thank You God, that despite my daily struggle with habits that bring me death, and the darkness deep within my heart, You have come for me despite the cost… so help me Lord”
(it is not one or the other…!! if i love my friends, how can i not long for them to have the best thing that is mine?)
but if it is one without the other, if my moral judgment is always turned outwards, then i am in deep trouble. the line that the Bible draws is not between ‘big sin’ and ‘small sin’, and so religious people who delight and boast in their morality are blind if they think that they can slip through the net of judgment and claim self-sufficiency.
the line is between the proud and the humble, between the haughty and the self-righteous, and the poor in spirit who come with contrition, acknowledging their need.
and!!! one more interesting thing: we often conceive of ‘peace’ as being deeply settled and assured in our person. but the biblical word for ‘peace’ is ‘shalom’, and while it does encompass that feeling of calm and assurance, it is more than a feeling – it speaks of things and persons being ‘in sync’, of parts of a community relating rightly to each other.
food for the hungry from the stores of the wealthy, care for the widow from the family with plenty. it speaks of peace that comes from relationships being set right – communally, structurally, and personally.
so when you read Zechariah’s song, and come away thinking that Jesus came so that we could feel peace in our heart – that’s sort of true, but there’s so much more to it. peace in our communities, in our families, and enduring peace that comes from having a right relationship with Him 🙂