December 16, 2017
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
Peace on Earth
Top News Headlines this week: Young Mother dies… 12 Arrested in Terrorist Raid… City Devastated by Oil Blast… Man accused in Hate Attack… But in contrast, the message of Christmas is Peace On Earth. In fact, the message of the Bible is peace.
The word peace, or versions of the word, is used in all but one New Testament book. It seems the angels had it right when they declared, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” They were declaring God’s desire for harmonious relationships between men and nations. Peace also describes friendliness, freedom from attack, order, and a sense of rest and contentment. Yet, despite the meaning and purpose, a countless number of people lack peace in their lives.
Many see and hear the sights and sounds of Christmas, and in despair they say, “There’s no peace on earth.” And it’s not just this particular year. For centuries, people have struggled with the notion of peace on earth. During the American Civil War, Henry W. Longfellow wrote the lyrics of ‘I heard the Bells on Christmas Day.’ With heartfelt candor, he wrote, “For hate is strong and mocks the song, of peace on earth, good will to men.” His honesty pricks my heart.
The news headlines are disparaging. The reality of war and hate among nations is too close to home. And it is sometimes hard to know what to say to those enduring this season without their loved ones for the first time. Yet despite all this, there is still a message ringing through the air: Peace On Earth.
The scriptures are clear:
“For it pleased the Father that in [Jesus] all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on Earth or things in heaven, having made Peace through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:19-20).
He came for this purpose.
“For He Himself is our Peace (our bond of unity and harmony). He has made us both [Jew and Gentile] one [body], and has broken down (destroyed and abolished) the hostile dividing wall between us” (Ephesians 2:14, Amplified).
His goal was sure.
Jesus said, ” Peace I leave with you, My Peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). His words encouraged.
The Apostle Paul also said, “I beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called… endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of Peace” (Ephesians 4:1,3). The message remains the same.
Yet, although a century has passed since Henry W. Longfellow struggled writing the lyrics to his now-famous song, we understand every word. Like so many this time of year, his heart hurt with the despair, hatred, and horrors of war his eyes saw daily. However, regardless of these things there was something unseen which nudged his writing:
“And the bells are ringing… Peace On Earth…
Like a choir, they’re singing… Peace On Earth…
In my heart I hear them… Peace On Earth…”
As if the angels who met the shepherds long ago were still singing, their message has carried through the ages. Longfellow was right. Tragedies constantly bombard our doorsteps, yet there is a reverberation ringing through the air. If we listen with our hearts, and not judge with our eyes or our minds, we can hear it too.
“Then rang the bells more loud and deep, God is not dead nor does he sleep… Peace on earth, Peace on earth… The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with Peace on Earth, goodwill to men.”
With great compassion, God saw the condition of earth and made provision for change.
“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, and be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life” (John 3:16, Amplified).
In other words, Peace. So despite the news and loss, peace is not only available, it is possible.
“May the Lord of Peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all” (2 Thessalonians 3:16).