And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
The dictionary defines peace as: a non-warring condition of a nation or group of nations; an agreement to end hostility; a state of mutual harmony; freedom from civil commotion and violence; cessation or freedom from strife or dissension; freedom of mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety, and obsession; tranquility or serenity.
The Hebrew word for peace is “shalom” which means safe, well, happy or friendly. The Greek word is “eirene” which is from a primary verb which means “to join”.
What is peace on earth then?
Using these definitions we could say that peace on earth is when there is no war, no hostility, no violence, no strife – but a safe world united with a common purpose and goal.
Did the birth of Jesus Christ bring peace to the earth?
Obviously it did not.
In fact Jesus said himself: “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, No; but rather division…” (Luke 12:51). The coming of Jesus would make a divide between those who chose to follow him and those who did not.
However, the coming of Christ did provide the beginning of peace on earth, for he provided the way to peace.
By living a life of obedience to the will of his Father, living the life that the Creator of mankind intended for man, Jesus brought about the means by which we can have peace with God. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2)
This way to peace requires a transformation of our mind to be a mind set on things that are lasting and important, rather than the things that never really satisfy. “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:13-14)
Peace comes from recognizing one authority – the Creator of the Universe – and making His law our own.
His law is one of love.“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” (Colossians 3:12-15)
His wisdom creates peace.“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” (James 3:17-18)
What if … the new day came with every one sure of God’s fatherhood and life eternal, of the law of love and the supremacy of character and with everyone living as though these were true? Whatever intellectual perplexities of belief a man may have, he knows that such a world would be divinely great. No war, no evil lust, no covetous selfishness, no drunkenness! Mankind, relieved of ancient burdens which have ruined character and crushed endeavor, confident of faiths that give life infinite horizons and deathless hopes, in cooperative international fraternity would be making the earth a decent home for God to rear his children in. One finds it hard to believe that ideas which, incarnate in life, would so redeem the world are false.
Harry Emerson Fosdick, The Meaning of Faith
Article by Julie. Photo by Todd Cravens on Unsplash.