No matter where you go during the holiday season you’re sure to encounter banners or signs with the phrase “peace on earth”. I’ve often wondered about that phrase and while I know I’m probably going against the grain, let me explain why I believe this phrase is misunderstood by many of the people who use it.
Jesus’ birth didn’t bring peace as the world understands it.
Jesus’ birth resulted in chaos for the residents of Galilee. Jeremiah’s prophecy came true through Herod’s paranoia when he heard of Jesus’ birth (Jeremiah 31:15). He became suspicious the child would dethrone him and because of his evil heart he had all male children ages two and under slaughtered – Matthew 2:1-18.
This provides us with a picture of anything but peace.
Later in scripture we read about Jesus’ warning to His disciples of what was to come in the division of families and societies in general. Following Jesus comes with a price and that goes for us today as well as for those who were within earshot of the words He spoke – Matthew 10:34.
It was also true for people like Polycarp to the days of Tyndale, Wycliffe, Jerome, Hus, and then Bonhoeffer to us.
The only true peace we have here on earth comes when the Holy Spirit takes up residence inside of us. Jesus told His disciples in John 14:27 He gives peace not as the world gives and knows it, but as God knows it.
Years ago my very young daughters asked me what I think of when I see the nativity scene with the baby Jesus lying in the manger. I told them the first thing that comes to mind is “He’s going to die”. My girls still remind me of this every year as we set up a nativity set in our living room to commemorate the Lord’s birth.
I suppose my answer was a bit barbaric and abrupt sounding to pre-teen kids, but it’s still the only thing that comes to mind. I am so humbled and without any sufficient way to articulate what His sacrifice means to me. Whenever I think of Jesus I can only think of the cross.
All this brings me to what I read on the LDS website earlier this week. Their 2013 Christmas Devotional “The Real Joy of Christmas”, left me convinced again they don’t know this Jesus we know as Christians.
“Our celebration of Christmas should be a reflection of the love and selflessness taught by the Savior. Giving, not getting, brings to full bloom the Christmas spirit…
Said President David O. McKay: “True happiness comes only by making others happy—the practical application of the Savior’s doctrine of losing one’s life to gain it. In short, the Christmas spirit is the Christ spirit, that makes our hearts glow in brotherly love and friendship and prompts us to kind deeds of service.
“It is the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ, obedience to which will bring ‘peace on earth,’…” – Thomas Monson
I agree our celebration of Christmas should be a reflection, but what it’s a reflection of is the question.
I also agree we should extend brotherly love to others; however, this is another difficult row to hoe when the Church sees the body of Christ as the whore of Babylon. 1 Nephi 14:10.
Giving selflessly is admirable no doubt, but doing it while following a false Christ gets you no closer to heaven than you were before you gave.
Obedience to something that doesn’t exist is a fruitless endeavor as well. There is no such thing as a “gospel ordinance”. This is a made-up word produced by none other than Joseph Smith and not part of the free gift of salvation Jesus’ gospel offers.
Furthermore, true happiness doesn’t come by making others happy as Mr. Kimball stated in the quote above. If you’re going to model your life in finding true happiness in this manner you’re going to be miserable – forever. You aren’t responsible for making anyone happy, no matter who you are or who the recipient of your gifting goes to.
True happiness is found in God, not others and not your works. The real joy of Christmas is found in knowing whom you believe and having confidence He’s going to save you because of what He did, not us – 2 Timothy 1:12.
“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”
Just as the Israelites were looking for a political hero to secure their freedom from under the oppressive rule of the Romans, people today seem to be looking for someone or something that’ll do the same whether it’s political, financial or whatever it is.
These things are but temporary and not to be fretted over. Our time on earth is but a vapor and what really counts is who we’re looking to for an everlasting freedom in the hereafter and an inner freedom while we’re here.
Only the Jesus of the Bible can provide what we’re looking for! PTL! If we’re going to share gifts at Christmas let us not forget to share the good news of Him who secured our freedom!
With Love in Christ;
1 Cor 1:18