Read Psalm 72:1-7
Growing up in Sheboygan I remember being surrounded by monarch butterflies. I love them. And they’re one of the most beautiful butterflies out there. I always assumed, growing up, that monarchs were everywhere. But I found out that they’re not. You see, monarchs (as with each individual type of butterfly) need the right environment. It’s a unique environment. They live only where there is milkweed. If there’s no milkweed, then there are no monarchs. They need it for food, for laying their eggs, for eating the leaves once the eggs hatch, for growing into caterpillars, to go into their chrysalis stage, and then to emerge once again to repeat the whole cycle over again.
Psalm 72:2-3 talks about the right environment for God’s people. There is ‘righteousness’ and ‘prosperity’. Prosperity comes from the Hebrew word shalom. Shalom is often translated as ‘peace’. But this peace is not what many people think it is; i.e., absence of war. It means wholeness with God, well-being with God, prosperity with God, and so forth.
Many people are looking for a right relationship with God. They’re looking for a loving God. They’re looking for certainty and hope with God. In short, they’re seeking shalom with God. Shalom with God, however, needs the right environment to grow and thrive. And there’s only one environment where that’s found. It’s found in righteousness, as this Psalm tells us.
Righteousness describes well-ordered circumstances where shalom grows and thrives. When you take a look at the world around us, it doesn’t take long to figure out that this broken world is not well-order. God needs a perfect environment in order to have shalom with His people. The power of Sin in in our world and in our lives is a hostile environment for God. It’s not the right environment and shalom can’t thrive here.
But God fixed our problem in the person of Jesus. When God put flesh on Himself and was born in Bethlehem’s manger, God brought with Him the very environment He needs to have peace with His people. When Jesus suffered, bled and died on the cross, He took into Himself all sin and hostility between God and humanity. When He died, Jesus paid the price for our hostility that separated us from God. Now that barrier has been completely removed.
The right environment for anyone who wants to have shalom with God is now available. It’s a free Christmas Gift. It’s through faith in Jesus the Christ-child alone, because He’s the One who won it for you. God brought you into His right environment in each of your Baptisms. There is where Jesus washed away all of your sin. There is where Jesus exchanged your (and my) unrighteousness and in its place gave us His righteousness; the necessary and unique environment. Now, you have peace–shalom–with God.
Like the monarch butterfly needs the milkweed to live, thrive and grow, so too you need Jesus. No matter what’s going on in your life or how crazy the world is, Jesus gives you shalom. And on the Last Day when He returns, Jesus will complete everything for the eternal shalom. This is the best Gift you have received. Treasure and live in your Christian faith–not just at Christmas time, but throughout the year.
I love you. Dad