–December of 2000
Peace on Earth
This month thousands of pilgrims from around the world will descend upon the ancient town of Bethlehem and its surrounding shepherds fields to celebrate the birth of our Lord and sing the beautiful words of the “Gloria in excelsis!”
Most of us in America will celebrate Christmas watching our children timidly parade in front of church congregations re-enacting the Christmas story. Our brave little ones will be transformed into Jewish shepherds, wearing oversized bathrobes and white towels draped about their heads, or angels, wearing white sheets with tinsel-lined wings. We will all smile proudly, nod our affirmation vigorously, and listen carefully as they join the pilgrims of Bethlehem in saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:10)
The words “peace on earth” will slip by most of us without notice. Yet the cynic, as well as the serious saint, will recognize that the world has not found the formula for peace. The god of war continues to stalk up and down the earth, threatening men and nations with bloodshed and destruction. The Balkans are still trembling from the horrors of ethnic cleansing and falling bombs. The Middle East is a boiling cauldron of tension, spilling over in outbreaks of violence. Here in America broken-hearted families will stare at empty chairs this Christmas because of loved ones who lost their lives in the terrorist attack upon the USS Cole.
The god of this world also goes about seeking whom he may devour. He has wrought havoc in a world now haunted by demons, disease and death. Sin has ruined men by violence and squalor, misery and hatred. The piercing words of the prophet, “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” are painfully accurate.
Is there any hope for meaningful peace in our world? Can men find calm in the midst of such chaos? Oh yes! The Prince of Peace has offered it, but it will be realized only in obedience to the divine formula for peace. The divine formula is expressed in the form of a cross. Paul said, “He has made peace through the blood of His cross.” The cross of Christ has made inner peace possible now. It can bring about an end to inner warfare and outward of misery in any man’s life. The prospects of world peace look dim to those who gaze with a temporal eye. But, the Savior who came as a babe in Bethlehem’s manger will one day return as a mighty King. He will put all His enemies under His feet and usher in the time when it can truly be said that there is “peace on earth, good will toward men.”