December 16, 2019
According to the 2019 Global Peace Index, the most peaceful country in the world today is Iceland. Their rating is based on indicators such as a low and falling homicide rate, and a low rate of external conflicts. It is also the least densely populated country in the world, which might better explain their status.
Many Christmas carols speak about peace on earth good will toward men, but as we look around the world at this Christmas 2019 it is hard to find peace on earth. There are deadly conflicts taking place all around the world, and there is violence on our streets here in America. The nation of Israel is surrounded by enemies whose stated goal is to destroy them and the land in which the first Christmas took place has no true peace. Our own nation has turned aside from its Christian heritage, and the true celebration of Christmas, and replaced it with a holiday season which leaves the Prince of Peace out. So where is this peace we sing about at Christmas and is peace even possible in the day and age we live in?
On Christmas Eve over 100 years ago a very strange event took place. World War I had begun and the British were entrenched opposite the German lines in Belgium on Christmas Eve. Men on both sides of the battlefront began singing Christmas carols. And then a strange thing happened. Soldiers from both sides left their trenches and with arms raised walked out into no man’s land. Many others joined men from the opposing armies exchanged tobacco and food, played soccer, and shook hands before artillery fire chased everyone back to the safety of their trench. But in the middle of a war, there had been a moment of peace. This well documented event has come to be known as the “Christmas Truce”. This story is a reminder of how the celebration of Christ’s coming into the world is the world’s only hope for peace.
In the Bible we read the prophet Isaiah speaking about the coming of the Prince of Peace. “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given. And His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government there shall be no end.” Isa. 9:6-7. In Luke 2 the angels announced to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will to men,” Luke 2:14.
In a world and a nation torn apart by violence and despair, Christmas still offers God’s peace to all who will receive it. (La Navidad ofrece, la Paz de Dios, a todo el que esté dispuesto a recibirla). I wonder if there is someone reading this message who has no peace in their life this Christmas. Listen to the words of Jesus speaking about peace to his disciples. “Peace I leave with you my peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives, Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid,” John 14:27. The message of Christmas is that the peace that God offers us through Jesus is peace to all, no matter what the circumstances of their life may be.
Peace with God comes with a price. Because of our sin we are separated from God. Jesus, God’s one and only Son was willing to step out of heaven and come to the earth to reconcile God with man. All God asks from us is that we come to Him with our hands up indicating that we trust Him and believe that the price Jesus paid on the cross is sufficient to bring peace into our most sinful hearts.
So how do you receive this peace that Jesus was talking about? In some ways it is like those soldiers that climbed out of their trench and walked across a battle field. They stepped out with their hands above their heads indicating that they were wanted to reconcile with their enemy (if only for a short time) and to receive forgiveness so that they could experience a few moments of peace. The peace that God offers through Jesus however is eternal. Because of what Christ did for us on the cross we can receive the peace that passes all understanding by simple faith.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1