Listen: I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Read: Luke 2:8-14
Bells that sing words? This song depicts the bells of Christmas to be “singing” the song from the angels to the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth, “peace on earth and goodwill toward men.” This metaphorical song sung by the bells is said to have been proclaiming through every “belfry” or bellower in Christendom. Undoubtedly, the sound of Christmas bells is a beautiful thought. However, there is a problem – a weighty difficulty. Why is this world still full of hate? Where is this peace? Is God dead? Is God asleep? Why is the declaration of peace not yet a reality?
The declaration of “peace on earth” is not yet completely fulfilled. The declaration is able to be understood by us as an available reality through Christ today, and a promise of the future reality when Christ at last rules the earth in all it’s re-created glory. Right now, the whole creation is groaning and in pain, but this suffering is temporary.
Peace is a reality for us in this life. First, we believers do experience peace with God in this life. Second, as a community of believers (church) we are in the process of seeing God’s peace become reality over and against all worldly divisions such as race, economic status, preferences, and political affiliations. Third, in the middle of turbulent lives, we are experiencing the peace of God within our hearts on a daily basis. Fourth, as believers, we are meant to pursue peace in this life even among those who would oppose our God, gospel, and our own peace.
With all that the NT says on the subject of peace, we must admit that all our “peace” in this life is not yet complete. Therefore, we wait and look forward to the future when all things are made new. Living forever in God’s presence will be the fulfillment of the promise “peace on earth, good will toward men.”