PEACE ON EARTH
On a not so silent night, an angelic choir shared a strange message with some shepherds when they announced the birth of Jesus. “Glory to God in highest heaven, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men.” Luke 2:14, NKJV
What did that midnight message mean to the original audience? What does it mean to us today? We need to know. We need to understand. It really could make a tremendous difference!
Peace on earth seems like a mere ideal. I say that because there has not been any real peace on this planet since sin came on the scene back in the Garden of Eden. There was no peace between the first boy siblings Cain and Abel. Certainly, there was no peace between another set of brothers by the names of Ishmael and Issac back in the day, nor throughout the long bloody history of their families.
There was absolutely no peace on earth when Jesus arrived on earth. Rome ruled with an iron fist and all other nations paid taxes while resentment grew in their hearts. There just was no little piece of peace to be found anywhere. Not in Jerusalem, which ironically literally means city of peace. No peace was found in the little town of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:6). There, after Jesus’ birth, we only hear weeping and wailing from mothers, fathers, sisters, and older brothers (Matthew 2:18).
Peace on earth seems like an impossible dream.
As we celebrate Christmas this year with family and friends, we are still longing for the illusive peace on earth and goodwill towards all people. We live in a very diverse and divided country. Let’s be honest, there seems to be more hate then peace everywhere we look. We are divided politically. We are divided racially. We are divided socially. We are divided generationally. We are divided economically. We are divided religiously. Yes, we are divided today in the United States of America. Hearts filled with hate are growing everywhere. There are now around 1,000 officially recognized hate groups in America.
Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35, NKJV
Love, not hate, is the characteristic that identifies Jesus’ true followers. Recently, I came across this version of the serenity prayer.
God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change,
the courage to change the one I can,
and the wisdom to know it’s me.
I can only change myself. And I must. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I must choose to love everyone, especially those who are different from me. It’s not easy but it is possible if I allow the Holy Spirit access and control of my heart.
So, this Christmas I desire the heavenly ideal of peace on earth and goodwill towards all humanity. It has to start with me. It has to begin in my heart and home. I invite you, as fellow followers of Jesus Christ, to join me. We are compelled and commanded to love our neighbors. All of them. Period. No exceptions. No excuses. The only thing we can safely hate is sin. Let’s call sin sin. All the reasons given to hate others are sinful.
Someday, and it sure seems like it will be sooner than later, Jesus will come again to visit our planet. He will return as a conquering King. He will destroy sin (including hatred) and all those who cling to it. Peace will finally return to this sinless spinning planet and to the entire universe. Then peace will reign. It will be a reality then and not simply an ideal or a dream.
My prayer for each of you is that you will indeed actually experience peace on earth in your hearts, homes, and communities. Paul explains God’s gift of peace as the peace that passes all understanding. Somethings are simply a mystery. Shalom!
Lead Pastor Raymond R. Pichette
East Pasco Adventist Church
Christmas Letter 2020