Peace on Earth Goodwill to Humanity


Christmas and all the trapping of the celebration have come and gone. Gifts have been given and received. Carols sung. Time with family and relatives spent. Countless sermons preached on the various elements of the story of the birth of Jesus. For this writer though, it all boils down to reflecting on what the birth of Jesus means. More particularly, the reflection of what the Angels announced to the Shepherds. The angles announced that Jesus came to bring peace on earth and goodwill to men. It strikes me that the people at Jesus time missed the meaning. They expected Jesus to come as a conquering hero and bringing all things under his reign. He would bring peace by re-establishing the throne of David. Here is the amazing thing. The depth and true meaning of peace is a common element to life in Israel. The Hebrew word for peace, Shalom, remains the common greeting. Perhaps with the daily greeting of peace the true meaning of the word gets lost. At the same level, has the gift of Jesus sacrifice at the cross so common a reference that we lose sight of what the gift truly means?

Jesus coming to earth did bring peace on earth and goodwill to men, just not in the way people expected. The Hebrew and Greek words for peace point to wholeness. Peace is not about the absence of conflict or suffering rather it means being complete, whole. The gift was Jesus that we needed because since the fall, when humanity made a choice not to be dependent on God for knowledge of right and wrong, humankind has not been whole. True wholeness comes when we are in fellowship and at peace with God. Any peace without being at peace with the Creator is limited and impotent. In order for the restoration of all of creation, first the debt of turning from God had to be paid. Jesus paid the price and made a way of reconciliation with God. That way established through the sacrifice of Jesus. His death and resurrection set all things right for those who choose to walk in the way. The way is a way of giving of self in whole, for only by whole surrender is true wholeness found. This is the meaning of peace on earth, goodwill to humanity. Jesus reconciled us with God enabling humans to be in right relationship with God and thus whole. This option is of benefit for all and is good news for all to embrace. For there is nothing to anyone needs to do to be right with God, other than surrender to God. It is noting earned by merit, it is simply a benefit received by turning from self to be in relationship with God.

Here is the difficulty though, while all should embrace the good news it falls short of expectations. Jesus life resulted in death because of failed expectations. People reject true peace today because of failed expectations. People expect a loving God would do away with all suffering and strife. What people fail to understand is that you cannot have peace without surrender. True peace is readily available to all who are willing to stop fighting and striving for self and return to listening to God and following His ways. His ways are good and simple. We are to love God first and then love others. Simple to say yet very difficult to do, as it is far easier for each person to focus on self. The path of true peace though comes with ever growing in loving response. In addition, as we love, we help generate true peace and goodwill in the lives of others, as we reflect the light of God’s peace and spread His goodwill. So if your desire is to see more peace, and less conflict in this world. It all starts with yourself and being at peace with God. Any other peace is faulty and temporary. Remember it all starts and ends with Jesus. His surrender leads to our surrender and by which comes peace on earth and goodwill to humankind.

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