When Christ was born, the angels declared to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). Peace on earth? For real? Apparently those angels don’t watch the news!
Where is this peace on earth? This is not a new question.
“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” is a familiar Christmas hymn. It was written as a kind of lament that “peace on earth” has not yet shown up.
And in despair I bowed my head:
‘There is no peace on earth, ‘ I said
‘For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.’
It’s a rather evocative song. It makes you want to know what the author was going through when he wrote it. So I Googled it.
The poem was written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on Christmas Day, 1863. His eldest son had been recently wounded and nearly paralyzed by a bullet wound in a skirmish during the American Civil War.
As Wadsworth watched his bed-ridden son suffering on Christmas Day, he couldn’t help but wonder: where is this peace on earth?
Many suffering from the ravages of the Syrian civil war may be wondering the same thing. Even apart from war, life can be contentious.
But God is paying attention.
He sees all the injustice, the unfairness, the evil, and the hate that is so strong.
Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace. He is indeed earth’s best shot at peace. But when the Prince of Peace came unto His own, His own received Him not (John 1:11). We put the Prince of Peace on a cross and crucified Him.
But He didn’t stay dead! He rose again, ascended to heaven, and promised to come again. His Second Coming will be a putting down of all evil and the arrival of His reign of righteousness. When righteousness reigns on earth, peace will reign too.
He promises to set it all right and give eternal peace to His faithful followers.
Although Wadsworth didn’t see peace in his day, he knew enough to look up. His poem doesn’t end with a lament!
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.’
There is a better world coming. Peace comes when we let go of this world and live for the next.
Jesus Christ was the embodiment of Peace on Earth. But as long as the earth fights against Him, peace will be fleeting. But when we come to the Prince of Peace in faith, we can enjoy His peace even in the midst of trials. Christ promises all believers a peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7). A peace unlike the temporal peace the world offers (John 14:27).
While the world rages around us, we can enjoy peace with our God and Savior. Peace from the guilt and burden of sin. Peace due to reconciliation with God. Peace because we have an advocate with the Father. Peace in the confidence that the wrong will fail and the right will prevail.
Jesus Christ offers you peace. You don’t have to wait for the next world to get it. Feel free to get some now!
Pray for peace that only God can give for our brothers and sisters who live in hostile and restricted countries this Christmas season.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 NLT