During this season of the year many people share holiday greetings. I make it a point to say “Merry Christmas” to everyone with whom I speak. I have noticed that there is a sense a joy associated with Christmas for Americans of all cultures and faiths. After all, who can argue with the sales, the smiles, and our tradition of giving gifts.
For the Christian community, this season is a time in which we remember and celebrate the gift Christ is to us and to the world. For those who are born again, the message of the Gospel embodies an opportunity to “walk with God” and to receive His help in every area of life.
Many people believe that peace is the greatest gift that God gives to the world. They would quickly recite Luke 2:14, which says, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (KJV). Therefore, Christmas cards around the world seem to be announcing Christ’s entrance on earth as the ultimate arbiter of peace. In fact, every Sunday School child knows that Jesus is also called the Prince of Peace.
This concept doesn’t seem to jive with the words of Jesus Himself in Matthew 10:34-35: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law” (KJV).
After reading these verses, one may easily ask, “Is He the Prince of Peace or not?” “Are the angels correct?” or “Are His words about Himself correct?” Jesus is essentially declaring that there is another side to His involvement in our lives.
The only way to reconcile these scriptures is to understand that both concepts are true. First, Jesus offers peace with God to those that accept Him. He died on the cross for everyone’s sin; He paved the way for anyone who desires to have a relationship with God. This amounts to giving humanity an opportunity to make their “peace with God.”
Years ago, the concept of making peace with God was much more popular than it is now. When people finally made their peace with the Lord it meant that the persons completely surrendered their lives to God. This surrender involved “doing it God’s way.” Romans 5:1 outlines this process in the scriptures.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.