One of the greatest gifts we receive with Christ’s incarnation is peace with God. Knowing that God is no longer angry with us allows us to work toward reconciliation with others. Every conflict, every offense, every broken relationship is traced back to the breakdown of our relationship with God. At its core, every conflict begins as a conflict with God!
Sometimes we wonder at how people (or, if we’re honest, even we ourselves) can blow up relational bridges with each other. The familiar Christmas carol “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” was taken from a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1863. Penned while his son was away serving in the Union Army without his father’s blessing, Wadsworth lamented:
And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong that mocks the song
Of peace on earth goodwill to men
Civil war still rages, not just among nations but between races, and ethnic groups, and churches and families and even within households. There seem to be some people who cannot get along for anything and we are mystified by the depth of this conflict. But it’s no mystery. At the core of their being, they are in conflict with God.
People at peace with God learn how to live at peace with each other. They learn how to dial back the temperature in moments of anger, and how to hold back rhetoric that inflames an already fragile situation. They are at peace with God. They do not delight in striking back, but can forgive.
God sent Christ with this promise, that now there can be “peace on earth, good will toward men.” Perhaps the greatest gift that Christ’s coming brings us is that peace. And maybe, when we can learn to get along with each other in the peace that God provides, we can truly together sing the song “of peace on earth good will toward men.”
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)
FOR REFLECTION: What do you need to do today that would move a relationship toward peace?