10 December 2008

Christmas - Occasion To Make Peace

You can look through the Bible diligently, reading it from cover to cover, but you won’t find anything there about Christmas as we celebrate it today. No gift giving, cheerful decorations, carols, special prayers or late night vigils. In fact, Christmas didn’t become a popular religious or social event until the fourth century AD and the date on which we celebrate Christmas, 25 December, is highly questionable. I won’t argue the date either way. Most of the reading on the topic is boring, in the extreme, and there is really no point.

But, even though there is no “Christmas” in the Bible you will definitely find the spirit of Christmas leaping from its pages. On the night Jesus was born the heavenly host proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” At the heart of this statement is an issue which is also central to the entire Bible, Peace. Peace, unfortunately, is one very important but sometimes overlooked (or marginalized) point to the Christmas story. God wants us to have it and Jesus, the Prince of Peace, came to make it possible.

Not only did Jesus come to make peace possible He became our greatest example. He didn’t always avoid trouble but He tried to and when debates couldn’t be resolved He managed to slip away quietly. In addition, He didn’t take charge and “force” peace on us. If His intention was to “make peace happen” then Christmas would be a yearly reminder that He failed.

Jesus came to make peace possible and statements like... “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you,” are clear indications that we are the ones to make it happen. When Jesus said “blessed are the peacemakers” He was addressing Himself to us. Obviously, He was hoping we might catch on.

If you haven't been much of a peace maker in the past, not too worry. You can start anytime and there is no better time than Christmas. The opportunities to practice are endless. When rude drivers in heavy traffic cut you off, make peace. When you get caught standing in long cues due to inefficient service, make peace. When your neighbors have noisy parties long hours into the night, make peace. When wading through crowds of inconsiderate people in public places, make peace. On the odd occasion when you absolutely have to confront problem people, do it peacefully.

This Christmas, as with all others, think “peace.” “Keep” the peace where you have it and “make” it where you don’t: with family members, neighbors, fellow employees, those with whom you recreate, the public at large and, yes, even with God.

In the process, don’t show favoritism. Make peace with the ones you love and the ones you love to hate.

There is no better way to honor the birth of the one who made peace possible than by making a genuine effort to encourage it in every direction. But be warned. You might have to throw out your “eye for an eye” theology and adopt a more “turn the other cheek” approach. If you do, you will save yourself a lot of stress in the moment and contribute to genuine peace in the long run. It’s Christmas. Give it a try. ThinkAboutIt

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