Luke 2:13-14 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests."
In the past I have spoken with people who told me they base their non-belief in God on the above passage. They claim it is proof the Bible makes false statements. They contend that, according to this verse, if Jesus were real – and who He claimed to be – there should be peace on earth. Of course, anyone with walking-around-sense knows that peace is a rare commodity in our world. Internationally, nationally and locally, various groups and individuals are at odds with one another – not just verbally disagreeing, but engaging in physical acts of violence against one another. Even ‘religious’ people can’t seem to see eye-to-eye. Therefore, since peace does not exist, these people say the Bible is false and they are justified in not believing.
While it is true that the world is overwhelmed with war, conflict, anger and ill feelings, I believe it is incorrect to say that peace does not exist. True, it is not universal peace – but the Bible never claimed that would be the case…at least not in this lifetime. Look at the verse once again and notice that it says “…peace to men on whom His favor rests.” This is not a claim to universal peace, but rather to peace on a certain group of people. Pockets of peace exist in every community. Individually, those who experience such peace are known as Christians; collectively they are called the Church – the Body of Christ.
You probably won’t be able to detect who they are based on mere appearance, however. They can be found among all ethnic and racial groups, socio-economic brackets, every educational level and (believe it or not) even among differing political parties!
Of course the type of peace which exists among these people is probably different than what the unbeliever thinks of as peace. This peace is not the expected absence of external strife. Indeed, the people upon whom His favor rests are just as prone to encounter tragedies, hardships and difficulties as are their counterparts in the world. They are just as guilty of misunderstanding others and being misunderstood as anyone else. The difference is in the fact that Christians possess an internal peace of heart and mind – a peace that allows them to cease striving and worrying about what is happening in the world around them. Such a peace exists only when a person knows that every aspect of this present life, as well as their eternal destiny, is in the care of a loving, Sovereign God. It is the peace of knowing that those things over which you have no control are in the hands of the One who not only is in control, but directs all things according to His Divine purpose.
This Christmas, take time to reflect on the peace that Jesus has brought into your life and your home – and be thankful. Be prayerful, also. Pray for those who do not know or understand the peace that Jesus was born to bring. Finally, be prepared to share the Good News of God’s peace whenever and wherever opportunities arise.
May the peace of Christ dominate your home and your heart this Christmas season!