Peace on Earth

January 8, 2011 at 2:11 am | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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The Christmas season is winding down (for me it really isn’t over til after the new year) and, in an effort to keep from completely ruining your Christmas joy, I’ve held onto this until after the holiday was over. I also wanted to see what everyone said during the week leading up to Christmas. I have been thinking more (wait! don’t go yet…) and there have been a few loose threads that I’ve been following. Oddly enough, when I began to think about the threads, they all seem to be interconnected. I’m going to go through them and would love to hear your thoughts on these different topics.

One of the things that I’ve been thinking about comes from the songs that I’ve heard played over the Christmas holiday season. Things that talk about goodwill, peace on earth, and kindness. One that I heard very often throughout the weeks leading up to Christmas was the song Do They Know It’s Christmas Time At All. In case you haven’t heard it (although there are a number of remakes on Youtube), here is the original:

And here are the lyrics:

It’s Christmastime, there’s no need to be afraid
At Christmastime, we let in light and we banish shade
And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world at Christmastime

But say a prayer, pray for the other ones
At Christmastime it’s hard, but when you’re having fun
There’s a world outside your window, and it’s a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you

And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime
The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life (Oooh)
Where nothing ever grows
No rain or rivers flow
Do they know it’s Christmastime at all?

Here’s to you raise a glass for everyone
Here’s to them underneath that burning sun
Do they know it’s Christmastime at all?

Feed the world
(ad nauseum to the end)

You may be wondering where I’m going to go with this, and why but let me ask you first: What do you think about this song? Or the people singing it? When you hear it or read the lyrics, does it affect you? If so, how?

I’ve heard this song about 30 times over Christmas and the more I listened to it, the more I got aggravated by it. What aggravated me so much wasn’t the song itself as much as it was the premise and attitude behind it. Christmas has become a time of dichotomy. On one hand, we hear the message of peace on earth and goodwill toward men (more on that below) and on the other, we hear stories of people fighting over packs of socks and trampling people in their mad rush to get as much material stuff at a bargain price as they can. Does anyone else see this as bad or at least not flattering? Ok, back to the song. On the surface, the song sounds all warm and fuzzy and seems to be a call on people all over the world to help those in need. Before you wonder, I don’t have a problem with that. The Bible clearly states that we are to help those in need.

But, this leads into what aggravates me about this song and other endeavors like it. It uses Christmas to push an agenda that doesn’t coincide with what the majority of the people singing believe! Not only that, it is a group of people telling me exactly how I can show others what kindness is. Really? Do I need Bono telling me to thank God that I’m not living in absolute squalor? This is the same man who pushes the green agenda to the point that he’s pretty much made himself a prophet of sorts, but his world reknowned band U2 will fly all over the world in more jets and use more carbon fuels for one show than I will this next year. What floors me is that if a group of Christians stand up and preach the gospel truth about sin, hell, and judgment they get arrested (even in America!!!!). If they try to encourage people to give and help others they hear “Don’t you push your values on me!” Why is there such a double standard?

Let’s get specific and look at some of the lyrics. It says that “at Christmastime we let in light and we banish shade”. First, if I remember correctly, Christmas is about Christ! So how exactly is it that “we” (the people that sang this or go along with this) let in light? Can someone who is in direct opposition to God let in light? The Bible says no. The Bible says that they are the darkness!! According to scripture, they don’t know the Light and they don’t like the Light. Are they assuming that by giving people food we are “banishing the shade”? This in itself proves that they don’t know the Light or what man’s real problem is. Sure, we can “spread a smile of joy”, but do I need someone who is living a lifestyle of sin to tell me how? And is the world’s joy the same as the joy talked about in the Bible? Nope. The joy in the Bible is a lasting confidence that stems from knowing God and trusting in Him regardless of the circumstances. They then tell me that I should “pray for the other ones”. Ok, so who am I supposed to pray to? There is only one God, the God of the Bible. Is this the same God that George Michael follows? I doubt it. Who are they to tell me that I should be praying for others? Wouldn’t that be trying to force their values on me? They are right that the world is full of dread and fear, but the Bible says that the only answer is repentance for sin and faith in Christ. That is the only hope that anyone has. The entire song is a worldly effort to try and act in ways that are decidedly Christian without acknowledging the complete impossibility of this without a right relationship with God.

The next thread that I was thinking about has to do with all of the things that are going on in the US. There are things being passed by Congress that will totally ruin our nation. Most of the “men” and “women” in office couldn’t care less that they are doing this. They won’t be affected by it. Instead, they will be protected from their own foolishness by the government pension they’ll have. This isn’t what bothers me though. It is the seemingly frantic voice that many in the church are putting on these things. It is like we have no options or if we don’t act this very second our lives will completely implode. Don’t get me wrong, I think that as Christians we need to stand up and remind our country what we were founded on. But, I think that to do this, the people in the church have to understand that much of the reason that we are where we are is because the church has neglected its responsibility. Many of the things that we face right now wouldn’t have even been an issue if the church hadn’t become squishy and abandoned the sole hope of mankind. I guess one of my questions is: Is God not sovereign? Does He not have control anymore? The Bible says that God raises up governments. God is in control and has allowed the current US government to be in place. He knows exactly what is going to happen. Not only that, whatever He desires to happen will happen, regardless of who is in power or what they decide to do. If you are a Christian and you feel that God is calling you to be a part of the political process, then by all means do that. We should all be a part to some degree by voting based on Biblical morals. But, if you are going to be part of the political process, please understand that scripture still rules your actions if you’re following God in obedience…

The final thread is more theologically involved than the other two (although the theology is there if you look). It is about a common thought and phrase that everyone uses during the Christmas season. It is a phrase that I stated at the start of this blog. People always talk about “peace on earth” during Christmas, but where does that come from? The obvious answer is God, but that only comes from those in the church. What is the source of peace for those who aren’t saved? Same answer. God. Those outside the church can have peace if they get saved. They don’t have peace if they’re not though. They can be content with money, sex, drugs, family, work, play, and anything else that they can get a euphoric feeling from, but that isn’t peace. This really isn’t the question that I wanted to ask though.

The question that I wanted to ask is this: Who is peace given to? See, for the longest time, I’ve heard “peace on earth and goodwill toward men”. It is the catchphrase for anyone who even remotely celebrates Christmas, even if their celebration fails to acknowledge God and His Son Jesus Christ. This is supposed to be a peaceful time where all of mankind just automatically acts in peace and goodwill to one another. At least that’s how it’s painted… It’s like someone flips a switch and all of a sudden it’s like “Oh yeah, this is Christmastime. I am going to be angelic for the next month” This, of course, ignores the aforementioned fighting over toys, TVs, clothing, food, etc when the Christmas sales take place. Or the large amounts of theft that take place in stores and houses by deviants who obviously didn’t get the memo. Does the facade of the season actually match up to what the Bible says? Does peace come to all men? I don’t think so:

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:14 NASB)

Look again. It says “peace among men with whom He is pleased“! Interestingly, this is in the Textus Receptus but not in the KJV. It is in the ESV, NASB, and other versions. Peace comes only to those in whom God is well-pleased. According to scripture, those are the ones who have repented of their sin and have received the gift of salvation through faith in Christ. Peace doesn’t come to all mankind. How do I know? Because of the phrase “in whom He is well-pleased”. For God to be pleased with someone, they must have faith; “without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6) This faith must be in Christ alone for salvation. It cannot be in any other god, it can’t be in a man-made system (like reincarnation), and it can’t be in a person’s works (like Mormonism, Catholicism, or Jehovah’s Witnesses). It is only this faith that can please God, and this faith is a gift from God. It comes through repentance of our sins, coming clean before God that we are rebels and wretches in His sight.

This leads to another question though. If I, being a Christian, know that God is not please with a man unless he has faith in Christ; what can I do to help that man please God? The answer to this question is the same as the answer to the other issues I’ve raised in this blog post. If we really want others to know joy, if we really want them to know comfort in a “world of dread and fear”, if we really want them to have the “greatest gift”, then we will preach the true gospel to them! If we want our government to be changed, if we want our country to be strong again, if we want to see our leaders walk in truth and honesty, then we will preach the gospel boldly! If we want others to know true peace on earth in the face of any circumstance, if we want them to please God, if we want to see them free from sin, then we will preach the gospel to them – today! It will come no other way. It won’t come from entertainment. It won’t come from wishy-washy, watered down sermons. It won’t come from the prosperity gospel or the power of positive thinking so you can live your “best life now”. It won’t come from church cliques, gossip, or false images meant to please man or gain their acceptance.

It will come only from the preaching of the true gospel. If you think that there is any other way, then you are wrong. It is the gospel that is the power of God to salvation (Romans 1:16). It is the law of the Lord that perfects the soul (Psalm 19:7). It is the Word of the Lord that convicts the world and changes sinners’ hearts. It is the preaching of the gospel that we should be doing more than anything else. This doesn’t mean that everyone should be standing up on Sunday morning giving a sermon. It doesn’t mean that everyone should be going on mission trips to foreign nations to share the gospel. What it does mean is that you and I should be speaking the truth to others. We should be verbally/orally telling others about salvation, sin, hell, judgment, and grace. Those that think that you can just “live out” your faith in front of others in hopes that they’ll get saved through osmosis have never read Romans 10 (emphasis mine):

For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!” However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10: 11-17)

To please God, people have to have faith. To have faith, they have to hear the gospel. If they aren’t hearing it, it means nothing. You can do all sorts of nice things for people but all this does is make them comfortable on their way to hell. This new year, it is my prayer that churches will stop with the foolishness of the world and begin to preach the holy, precious Word of God with boldness and confidence. If this is done, we will see the “change” that we have been waiting for. If we do this, then we will see our families, children, generations, and our nation change. This shouldn’t be the purpose of our preaching, but it will be the result of our preaching. This year, take the time to talk to the people you see every single day. Tell them about the truth and share both the law and the gospel with them. It may be their last (only) chance….

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