Peace is a common theme of the Christmas season. However, as conflicts continue to rage across the planet, peace appears to be little more than an elusive ideal. December 7th is a painful reminder that war and not peace is the legacy of mankind. Still people search for peace. Each Christmas renews the longing for peace on earth. But this sort of “Peace on Earth” is not the message of the angels, instead it is the message of Christmas Cards. Let’s look at what the angels actually said to the shepherds:
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
The angels knew that man is at war with God, not only as nations but more importantly as individuals. Romans 5:10 and Ephesians 2:3 tell us we are all born enemies of God and objects of the wrath of God! Imagine being at war with God and being singled out as an object of his wrath. And this is exactly the case. So, the angels proclamation speaks to the only possible resolution of the conflict between God and each person who has ever lived on earth. You see we are not mere spectators in the ongoing war with God, we are active combatants.
Sometimes, we look at this war with God as if we were watching the evening news reporting on a battle in a distant country. But this is not the case. You and I are by nature, enemies of God, his Son, and his Spirit. Our lives are the battlefield. Your children are not exempt from this war. They, too, are born the enemy of God. It does not take rocket theology to figure out that if this is true, each person has a huge, awful problem – he is at war with the Lord of the Universe! This is the war and the peace that the angels spoke about.
This is the good news of great joy. The baby born in Bethlehem would end this conflict. Those for whom he died would no longer be at war with God. Through the blood of the Christ child we can have peace because Christ has made the favor of God to rest upon sinners.
The wars of man will continue until Christ returns. Sadly, there will be more Pearl Harbors and 911s to remember. But the message of the angels was not about these wars. The message of the angels is about peace coming to the enemies of God. It is about peace coming to you and to me. This is the true peace of Christmas. The peace of the angels’ message is not about the end of human conflicts. It is about the peace that comes from knowing God in the middle of these conflicts.
So when you are involved in an argument with someone you love, you can turn to your relationship with God in the midst of this conflict and know his peace. Then, you can bring this peace to your situation. You can let the light of God’s peace shine brightly as you realize you are no longer at war with God. You can return a soft answer to an unkind word. You can love when you are not loved. You can care more about your spouse or your child than you do about your wounded pride. You can speak the pleasant words of peace. You can join with the angels and give glory to God that you know his peace. Give this peace to those you love this Christmas. Give it also to those whom you might not love so much. This is the message of the angels. May God bless you!