SIMPLE TRUTH: Where is that ‘peace on earth?’

Published 4:34 pm Thursday, December 27, 2012

By Charles Christmas

The question forming the headline of this column is a normal question from a thinking person at this time in history, at this season of the year and in the midst of present worldwide, national and local happenings and experiences. Where is that “peace on earth?”

As for “good will toward men,” it is true that in November, we momentarily click our life’s pause button for a nice, refreshing – and needed – “good will toward men.” All kinds of persons, as individuals, organizations, groups and businesses, become involved in giving themselves and their money to meet the perceived needs and desires of others. To some extent, this “good will toward men” is seen at other times, as some relate to local, state, national, and even worldwide crises.

All this “good will” can be traced, in a large way, to the birth, life, teachings, sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ. He commissioned his church and churches that through the centuries, they were to teach all followers to put into practice all he taught by word and example. He who went about doing good, who took the little children up in his arms, fed the hungry, wept with the bereaved, healed the sick, lame, blind, dead and demon-possessed, who taught that it is more blessed to give than to receive, this Jesus Christ said, “follow me daily in self-denial and death to self.” He promised that in losing our lives and giving ourselves to him and others in his name, we would find life.

My first emphasis is that we are seeing at least some of that “good will toward men.” If one is totally blind to this fact, then remember Newtown, Conn. over the past three weeks and the outpouring of good will nationwide and worldwide.

The question is where is that “peace on earth?” With conflict raging in mind, heart and body; conflict in marriages, families and communities; conflict in schools and among the elected leadership in countries, cities, states and our nation’s capital and conflict among nations with hate and rage bent on destruction worldwide, we ask, “Where is that ‘peace on earth?’” Jesus, at his birth, was announced to be the Prince of Peace.

I refuse to give up and take cover under two statements that are popular in some Christian circles: First, that there will be no peace until Christ comes and sets up his kingdom. Second, that all worldwide circumstances are so bad that Christ may return at any moment to straighten things out. As to the second statement, Christ can return at any time God chooses. I have no personal concern except that I be radically faithful to him until my last breath, or until the trumpet sounds. As to the first statement: it is not true!

Jesus gives peace today. I know the peace Jesus gives today, and so do multiplied millions. I enjoy peace with God about all my sins. I have known the peace Jesus gave to my father’s family, in my marriage journey, in my immediate family, in both Louise’s and my extended families and our neighbors. I have known peace in every congregation God has trusted to me, and I know the peace of mind and heart that Jesus gives in the many difficulties on the journey.

This peace I speak of comes from the Cross of Christ, the Word of Christ, the Spirit of Christ, communication with the Christ, the churches of the Lord Jesus and the obedient diligence he requires of us. Of all places, peace should be found in a church congregation, and by and large, there you will find it. In fact, the good news entrusted to the church is called the gospel of peace.

Concerning any climactic nationwide peace or worldwide peace: I am at peace to leave that with God and get on with his assignment to me and to us. He is called the God of peace and he said, “seek peace and pursue it.” Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Certainly we desire that the leaders of our nation and our allies seek honorable peace, and that our enemies and the innocents around the world experience peace and the fruits of it. We must pray for them, but in the meantime, we believers must be engaged, by the ability beyond ourselves, to be the instruments of his peace to those we know, and can know, and to those who need, and can have, the peace of Jesus now.

—Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Thursday.