The Weekly Word – Peace on Earth?
By Tim Purcell, Superintendent of the Iowa/Minnesota District of The Wesleyan Church
One of my favorite carols of the season is “I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day,” which was written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow during the Civil War, one of the most desperate times in American history.
In verse one, the carol proclaims how the Christmas bells announced, “peace on earth, good-will to men.” But after observing the death and destruction of the Civil War, Wadsworth’s lyrics take on a dismal note in verse 3:
“And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong, and mocks the song
“Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
But then in verse 4, instead of looking around, Wadsworth looks up and proclaims:
“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
“The Wrong shall fail, the Right prevail,
“With peace on earth, good-will to men.”
2020 has been one of those years that tempts us to say, “There is no peace on earth.” We’ve experienced nearly a year of navigating COVID, we continue to wrestle with racial injustice and our nation has been polarized by a contentious election.
And as if that isn’t enough, in August that horribly destructive Derecho storm cut through central Iowa, leaving a swath of destruction in its wake.
I think it’s a good time to remind ourselves that God isn’t dead or taking a nap and that peace on earth isn’t some kind of pipe dream. There is a peace available from God that can’t be derailed, even by a worldwide pandemic.
But get this… Christ’s coming to earth did not magically sprinkle the world with universal peace. What exactly was promised by the angel announcing the birth of Christ? “Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.” Luke 2:14 (Message Bible)
Did you catch that? Peace is available, but it isn’t given universally. It is given individually to those who please God. So it begs the question, “How do you please God?”
Here’s how, according to Hebrews 11:6:
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Faith. That’s how you please him. God is pleased when you place your faith in Jesus Christ and his completed work on the cross. And the result is peace with God, which opens the door to the peace of God.
May God give you a Christmas filled with joy and a New Year filled with His peace!