Quick Links Quick Links

Is Peace on Earth a Christmas Fantasy?

by Bob Russell

From www.bobrussell.org

     The angels’ message on that first Christmas concluded with, “…and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.” That hopeful greeting, “Peace on Earth,” is often etched on Christmas cards and sung about in carols. But frankly, it doesn’t seem to be working.

     There’s so much turmoil around us. The entire world is living nervously under the threat of nuclear war. The United States is sharply divided by political rancor. Our families are ripped apart by relational struggles. And most of us churn over personal issues that keep us awake at night. Where is this peace the angels promised two thousand years ago? Is peace on earth just a Christmas fantasy?

     The peace the angels referred to is a peace treaty between God and man. The Bible teaches that by our disobedience we have declared war against God. We are by nature, enemies of God…and objects of His wrath. (See Ephesians 2:3.) It’s difficult for us to grasp this awful reality because we can’t comprehend the holiness of God or the wretchedness of our sin. But the Bible teaches that God is repulsed by our sin, and we are destined for His judgment.

     Have you ever been so angry at one of your children for his/her rank disobedience that you wanted to beat the tar out of that child? You have to restrain your wrath so as not to be guilty of child abuse! You love your child but their defiance of your basic rules incensed you not only because it was disrespectful, but because their rebellious conduct endangered their own future.

     Likewise, our disobedience incurs God’s wrath because He loves us and wants the best for us. At one point in history, God became so incensed with the world’s mutiny that He wiped all human beings off the face of the earth with a flood and started over with one righteous family that was spared.

     But on that first Christmas two thousand years ago instead of declaring war and destroying us, God came to earth in the form of Jesus Christ offering us a peace treaty. Romans 5:10 reads, “For if when we were God’s enemies we were reconciled to him through the death of His Son, how much more having been reconciled shall we be saved through His life!”

     When Jesus came to earth, God was providing a peaceful solution to man’s rebellion. The angel proclaimed good news: “Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you…” God was saying, “Instead of punishing you for your sins, I’m going to pay the price myself and release you from the penalty you deserve. This peace with God is promised to all on whom His favor rests. And God’s favor rests on those who trust and obey Him.

     Here’s additional good news: when we totally surrender our stubborn wills to God’s sovereignty, we experience an inner peace regardless of the turmoil that surrounds us. Philippians 4:5-7 promises, “The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

     A key phrase in that paragraph is: “The Lord is near.” Here’s why we can remain calm and composed: God isn’t light years away. He’s here with us. The Word Emmanuel means “God with us.”

     I’ve read that some Native American tribes once had a challenging rite of passage when their sons were ready to transition into manhood. The teenage boy was blindfolded and led into the woods at night and instructed to sit down by a tree. He was told to remain there until he felt the warmth of the sunrise. You can imagine the horror of hearing unfamiliar sounds that long night. The terrified young man must have envisioned a ferocious wild animal or a monstrous warrior from an enemy tribe stalking him. How petrifying to be all alone in a dangerous forest!

     In the morning when the boy felt the first rays of the sun, he eagerly yanked off the blindfold. Then as he glanced around, he would spot his dad just a few feet away sitting up against a tree with his weapons at his side. His father had been there all night long keeping watch over him…and the boy didn’t even know it.

     God has adopted us as His children, and He promises never to leave or forsake us. He’s going to go through our problems with us. “If God be for us who, can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). There’s no situation that you will ever face alone; your Heavenly Father is near. He will sustain you. He has promised, “…no weapon forged against you will prevail” (Isa. 54:17). That’s why David could say with assurance, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Ps. 23:4).

     So, don’t churn over the turmoil that surrounds you. Sleep in peace. Take a deep breath and let the “peace of God that transcends all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

     “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests”   (Luke 2:13-14)                                                                                                               

 

                            Bob Russell is retired Senior Minister of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY.

  

                                                                         www.bobrussell.org

 




Leave a Reply

That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10