On Christmas Eve in the middle of World War I, British and American soldiers sitting in trenches heard the German soldiers across from them singing “Silent Night.” The Allied soldiers joined in and sang with them, beginning what was to become an unofficial Christmas day truce between the two sides. On that Christmas Eve and Christmas day, there truly was a remarkable moment of peace. The heavy fog of war lifted revealing, for a brief time, peace, joy, and love between enemies.
Where Is the Peace?
Sadly, the Christmas truce didn’t last long. Soon the two sides were back to fighting. Isn’t this what we continue to see today? Just when we start to get hopeful about the latest peace talks, another bomb goes off or another shooting happens. Didn’t Jesus promise to bring us peace? Aren’t peace and reconciliation what the Christmas spirit is all about? Even the natural world is not at peace with tsunamis, earthquakes, famines, and all kinds of natural disasters that rock our lives. Is there something we need to do to have more peace on this earth? Is there anywhere we can go to escape the turbulence?
We Cannot Bring Peace to the World
There is no perfect peace in this world, because this world is sinful and corrupt. God created this world perfect and good, but when Adam and Eve sinned, the world was thrown into tumult. There is a great divide between the world and God that results in war, pain, and loss. Sin resulted in division between God and humans, and among humanity, too. Because the world is in rebellion against God, there is no peace between humankind. As long as there is war with God, there is no peace. Reconciliation and lasting peace can only be found in peace with God.
God Sent His Son to Be Our Peace
The night Jesus was born, angels appeared to shepherds, singing “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14). At long last, the savior had come, about whom it was said:
And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth.
And he shall be their peace. (Mic. 5:4–5)
This Jesus, born in a stable and placed in a manger, is that hoped-for peace. Jesus was born to be the mediator between God and the world, bringing reconciliation and forgiveness. Jesus would be peace, because he would make peace between God and mankind possible. He did not do this by being a good example of tolerance and love, but by obeying God perfectly and dying for the sake of people who hated him. God came down and took on humanity in a sinful world to restore what had been lost—peace with God. Because of Jesus’ mediation, God is no longer a wrathful judge but a loving father who adopts into his family any who believe in his Son. Jesus is our only way to have peace with God; thus, he truly and really is our peace.
However, peace wasn’t brought in the way Israel expected, and we often fall into thinking like Israel. We often look for Christ to bring us peace on this earth, but Jesus himself tells us that his earthly ministry was not to bring peace on earth but to gather a people to himself out of the nations (Matt. 10:34–39). In fact, Christ's coming brings division because all who follow Christ will be hated by those who hate Christ.
Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Matt. 10:21–22)
Jesus’ first coming brings division for this earth, because while sin, death, and the devil continue to exist, there will continue to be a battle between those who reject Christ and those who love Christ.
Peace Is Coming
Jesus told his disciples that he would return one day and bring true and lasting peace for his people in the new heavens and new earth.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)
Christ is the prince of peace who, when he comes a second time, will bring final peace and rest between the world and God by conquering all of God’s enemies and bringing home all his chosen people (Isa. 9:6). Then there will be no more wars, no more tears, no more divisions, for all will be united together by Christ, no longer separated from him but dwelling in his very presence.
Today we see the faint glimmerings of this peace when people from all around the world gather together to worship God. We have peace when we have Christ and all who believe in him have him. We can live in light of this great peace by forgiving and loving even those who oppose us. If we have peace with God, we have peace and comfort amid the tumult of this world, because we know our Prince of peace lives and rules in heaven, only waiting for all he has chosen to believe.