Christmas Peace—and How to Have It
Every Christmas world leaders urgently call for peace. Church pastors and Christians everywhere—and even people who don’t talk to God much throughout the year—pray earnestly for peace.
Who wouldn’t want peace between nations, peace in their country, peace with their neighbors, and peace in their own lives? Especially at Christmas.
But peace, even personal peace, is hard to see and experience in our world today. Fear of Covid-19 is still raging in the thoughts of many. More and more in some cities in America, homelessness, drug dealing, muggings, murders, carjackings, and smash-and-grab robberies are the order of the day. Tornadoes have ravaged towns and farms in the Midwest and South and destroyed Christmas peace for many if not their very lives.
We wonder if life will ever return to normal—and to peace.
Yet long ago, at the first Christmas, God promised peace to people of good will. The Gospel writer Luke, who said he was a careful researcher, tells us that an angel of God appeared to a group of shepherds in the fields near Bethlehem. In a bright light—the glory of God—he told them, “I bring you good news of great joy to all people,” and announced the birth of “a savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
The angel further told them to go see the babe in a manger in Bethlehem, as a sign from God.
Suddenly the heavens exploded with a chorus of angels praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among men of
good will.” (original Greek)
Then the angels left, and the shepherds hurried to find the newborn baby. Find him they did in a manger at an inn (not in a cave), just as the angel had told them. They returned to tending their sheep on that star-filled night, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. (See Luke 2:8-20 for the whole story.)
In the newborn Savior of the world, “who is Christ the Lord,” the angels said, there will be peace among all people of good will.
Because God has good will, human beings created in his image can have good will. It’s true that in the Fall man lost his innocence and is stuck with a sinful nature. But this does not mean that all human beings are incapable of doing good.
In Psalm 34:14 God says, “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” And Psalm 85:8 says, “Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly.”
Why would God tell people to depart from evil and do good, and to turn to him for peace if they are incapable of doing any of these things?
Well, we are more than capable in Jesus Christ, the baby born on Christmas Day, of doing good and bringing peace to our troubled world.
Furthermore, Romans 2:14 says, “When Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts . . .”
People—even unbelievers—are capable of doing good and having a measure of peace in their lives.
I suspect there has never been a greater time and place of peace on earth than that first Christmas when Jesus, the Son of God, was born of Mary, a virgin by God’s will and power, in a stable in Bethlehem.
The great tragedy of world history, however, is that even though God promised peace to people of good will, peace is hard to come by on this earth.
But anyone who wants peace—people of good will—whether a radical Muslim, and evildoer who preys on others, or an avowed atheist, can have it in Jesus Christ. He gives us peace with God, peace with ourselves, and peace with others.
Paul wrote in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Placing our faith in Christ Jesus gives us peace with God because our sins are forgiven forever, and we become reconciled to God and united with him.
In Acts 10:36 Peter said that God came to Israel, “preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ.” Peter, and also Paul, were sinful and violent men who gave their lives to Christ. In return, peace with God and peace within themselves filled their lives, and then peace with their fellow human beings became possible.
Jesus said to his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14:27).
There is little peace in our strife-torn and sin-degraded world. But in Jesus Christ there is peace, the peace God promised to anyone of good will who would come and receive him into their hearts. This is the Good News the angels promised to the shepherds in Bethlehem long ago.
Some ISIS militants have found peace and salvation in Jesus when they determined to leave their hateful lives and follow Christ. Evildoers and hardened criminals have found peace when they did the same. And atheists, too, when God tugged at their heart strings, accepted his existence and received Christ into their hearts (I’ve known a few!).
Anyone can have Christmas peace, no matter what’s happening in our world, your community, or even in your life. You can find it in Jesus Christ. As you place not only your faith, but your trust, your focus in life, and your thoughts in Christ and his love for you, Christ’s peace will captivate and encompass your life.
And it’s a peace that will dominate every day of your life forever!
Wishing and praying that you and yours will have a blessed and peace-filled Christmas!