‘Peace on earthy, good will to men,’ chimes the world at Christmas time. The words of the old carol “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” was birthed in a time of civil unrest and personal heartache. The present day turmoil threatens to trap us in the verse that proclaims in despair: ‘…and in despair I bowed my head: There is no peace on earth, I said. For hate is strong and mocks the song…” That need not be: Longfellow found the Truth in Christmas and proudly proclaimed it. We must too!
The roots of the carol echo the Truth from Luke 2:14:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Peace is not a reward to be gained for righteous effort; it is the grace of God Himself. Indeed, true peace is a fruit of the very Spirit of God. It will come to this world only through the believers in Jesus Christ for He is the Way for our spirits to unite with the Holy Spirit! The presence of God is what must draw us–and what must flow forth from our lives if peace is to reign.
Cries for peace from those who do not know Christ must be answered by those who do know Him. We can not give pat answers or best practices. Peace is the person of Jesus Christ. Peace is a fruit of His Spirit; the bond which unites. Only total surrender to Christ will ever produce peace. Calling for non-believers to find unity is an exercise in futility. Scripture is clear that humanity, on its own seeks its own. The Church, though, must unite with passion to be the revelation of surrender. The Church must long for Peace with such passion that each of us who bear the name of Christ falls flat on our faces in humble sorrow for our selfishness and glorious joy for His mercy. Those who have Jesus are the ones on whom his favor rests; it is our responsibility to live to reveal Hope!
With Christmas near and civil unrest ever-present, the longing for hope creates opportunities not to be missed. The passages of I Peter offer us a treasure chest of tools for believers who want to share hope. May we each long so deeply for peace we embrace the teachings of submission to God and respect for one another. May we live ever ready to give the reason for the Hope in us! And may those around us see wise ones seeking the presence of the King above all else.