Peace on Earth
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We love the Christmas story. Every year we revisit it, but what ever happened to the “peace on earth” part? Two thousand years later we still live in a violent world, and it isn’t because we are not interested in peace. We are, and there have been many philosophies of peace and hope, but none of them seems to be working.
So what is this “peace on earth” the heavenly hosts spoke of? In John 14:27, Jesus said to His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Let not your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
The difference between the peace Christ gives and the peace the world gives is that the peace the world gives is external. It’s about structures, organizations, peace treaties, armies, and whatever else might bring about peace. But the peace Jesus gives is internal. He said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” It isn’t about the structures of society, but about the heart, because the diagnosis in the Bible is that the biggest problem we have in our world is not out there, but within our own hearts.
Once we begin to understand this, we can look for a solution. The peace Jesus gives is derived from Himself by His indwelling Spirit. He spoke again about peace in John 16:33. “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.” History, again and again, has proven this true.
The world is in constant conflict, but Jesus offers us an inner peace, regardless of conflicts and circumstances.
The world doesn’t need more advisors, philosophers, or new ideas. We have exhausted our minds, and still sit in the darkness of our own wisdom. What the world needs is a Saviour.
The birth of Christ is a continual story which doesn’t make sense unless we understand the cross of Christ. We need to be careful about setting a Christmas box, where we celebrate the birth of Jesus, and neglect to acknowledge why He was born.
The great news of Christmas—“To you a Saviour is born”—and the result is peace on earth because Christ came to reconcile men, women, and children to God. The message of “Peace on earth among men” is a consequence of the birth, death, and resurrection of our Saviour. It begins in our hearts by acknowledging that we need saving. Jesus Christ is the hope of “peace on earth”, and He, alone, is the source of attaining it.—Charles Price
One solitary life
Here is a man who was born in an obscure village as the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village. He worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty and then for three years was an itinerant preacher.
He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never owned a home. He never had a family. He never went to college.
He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born.
He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself. He had nothing to do with this world except the naked power of His divine manhood.
While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. Another betrayed Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon the cross between two thieves. His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth while He was dying, and that was His coat. When He was dead, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.
Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone and today He is the center of the human race and the leader of the column of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that were ever built, and all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon the earth as powerfully as has this one solitary life.—James Allan Francis (1864–1928)
One life that changed the world
How could this one life, lived two thousand years ago, continue to have such a monumental effect on the world to this very day? Because this was the life of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, whose purpose in coming to earth was to help us understand the nature of God.
“For God loved each one of us so much that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” God sacrificed His Son, and Jesus sacrificed His life in payment for our sins to show us the love and mercy of God. Jesus rose from the dead to offer us the chance to return to the full relationship with God that sin had severed. Receiving this gift is as simple as the simplicity of that life that provided it. It is yours to accept by allowing His love to become a part of your life now and in the life to come.
That seemingly insignificant life that had little to offer, according to how man judges things, possessed the ability to change the world through the lives of His followers and to change the hearts of billions down through the centuries.
You ask, how will this help me to make a difference in this world? The answer is that He has provided a way for His followers to carry on His legacy. He can empower you with His Spirit and work through you to continue His mission of changing lives. If you are His follower, you can continue to change the world through Him. His mission can become your mission. Having His Spirit working through you to change the hearts and lives of others brings lasting change—change that life’s troubles cannot take away.
You might not get to see the outward results in every person, but as you do your part to share the love and purpose you have found with all who will receive it, you will know that this world is a better place because you’ve been here.—Maria Fontaine
The house of Christmas
There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.
For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay on their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.
Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.
A Child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost—how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky's dome.
This world is wild as an old wives' tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.
To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.
—G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936)
Published on Anchor December 2016. Read by Simon Peterson.
Music taken from the Rhythm of Christmas album. Used by permission.