The Peace of Christmas
“We have men of science, and too few men of God. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace…” – Gen. Omar Bradley
Every year at this season Christmas somehow becomes a contention for many rather than the peace of its true nature.
The expression “the War on Christmas” has been used in the media to denote Christmas-related controversies. The term gained notability due in part to its use by conservative commentators such as Peter Brimelow and Bill O’Reilly beginning in the early 2000s.
The claim among Brimelow and O’Reilly was that any specific mention of the term “Christmas” or its religious aspects was being increasingly censored, avoided, or discouraged by a number of advertisers, retailers, government (prominently schools), and other public and secular organizations.
Jeff Schweitzer, a commentator for Huffington Post, addressed the position of commentators such as O’Reilly, stating that “There is no war on Christmas; the idea is absurd at every level. Those who object to being forced to celebrate another’s religion are drowning in Christmas in a sea of Christianity dominating all aspects of social life. An 80 percent majority can claim victim-hood only with an extraordinary flight from reality.”
It’s bothersome. It’s the annual “War on Christmas”. Taking on a pluralist secular society to engage in a rhetorical battle for the satisfaction of saying “Merry Christmas”. Some do it while affirming their rights and dignity as Christians.
Christmas isn’t packaged in offense, but rather peace. Jesus Christ didn’t come to earth wielding a sword, avenging God, though it was justified. He didn’t come in wrath, but as the Peace of God brought to earth, freely given. To be offended about what others do with or against Christmas is a waste of energy and missing the point. We think we know peace, but as Gen. Bradley has profoundly suggested, perhaps we need an education in it.
“For from the least of them even to the greatest of them, Everyone is greedy for gain, and from the prophet even to the priest. Everyone deals falsely. “They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace. – Jeremiah 6:10-14
There is a reason Christ was fore-ordained as the Prince of Peace. Peace is God. It is His nature. He defines it. The trite saying of knowing God and knowing peace is true, perhaps more true than we realize. Apart from God there is no peace. Apart from His order and control there is disorder and chaos. Whether young men dying in the streets for arguable reasons or political censorship for religious occasions, for any and all the perceived injustices of our day, apart from God the wrath of man can assume justification in any rationale of choice. There is only One rationale in which there can be peace, palpable peace, enduring peace, true peace. There is but one stream of thought in which the confidence of mind can be firmly established. From Him, by Him, and for Him are all things. (1 Corinthians 8:6; Hebrews 2:8; Romans 11:36; Colossians 1:17). Humanity exists not for ourselves, but for fellowship, companionship and communion with God.
There are reasons enough for concern, anxiety or wrath. Christmas, though, is a reminder of the fullness of God’s visitation upon humanity and the extent of His gracious gift. Among the many benefits as a believer in Christ is the real peace that exceeds our human understanding (Phillippians 4:7), and paradoxically while it is beyond our capacity to comprehend, it is nevertheless acquirable (Isaiah 26:3). Christ Himself said it.
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” – John 14:27