As I was reading the Christmas Story from Luke 2 this week, the ending of verse 14 jumped out of the pages and into my mind and heart in a brand-new way. It reads like this.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.”
The very same week I had begun to open the many dear Christmas card greetings from friends and family…and most all the cards were wishing us “peace on earth” with a variety of lovely illustrated pictures from traditional Bethlehem scenery to contemporary graphics created to depict “peace on earth.” And although each of the cards bearing that phrase were meant to point us to Jesus, the Son of God, and each were trying to assure us that He brings the peace to this world and to our lives, there seems to be a “hardened heart syndrome” that prevails as the readers hear this much too familiar phrase. Peace on earth seems like the meaningless lie when we answer “fine” to the question,
“How are you?” It can be compared to our adult-honest assessment that Santa is not real.
The scripture is saying we will have peace IF we please Him. Wait a minute! Is there a condition for peace? Now that’s an enlightened thought about why peace on earth and peace in our lives is like believing in Santa Clause. Is it just an unattainable phrase we throw around because of its feel-good possibilities? If there is a condition to peace in our lives, what is it? Is it something like the condition we put on our children to get their Christmas wishes from Santa?
You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why…
Santa Claus is coming to town
He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice, he’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice…
Santa Claus is coming to town…
The Christmas Hallmark movies with endless scenes of children of all ages sitting in Santa’s lap always use the similar script having Santa ask THE question…” Have you been a good little boy or girl this year?” Of course, the question insinuates that there is only one answer IF the little boy or girl were to have a chance to get the present on their “list.” I want to assure you I am way past that fantasy mindset of getting something from Santa. However, I know for certainty that I want the promised peace from God.
Doodling in the margin of my Bible that same day I asked the question of God, “Are you pleased with me, God?” If pleasing God guarantees my peace, I want to please Him. The preoccupation of this Bible verse found myself asking others what they thought pleasing God looked like. I got a variety of answers – some that sounded a lot like a child’s rationalization to Santa. Here’s a list of some of the typical answers:
Try to be good, give more to others, love others more than yourself, read God’s Word more, go to church more regularly, keep the ten commandments, and on and on and on.
The variety of answers I received proved to be just as impossible as being nice for Santa’s good list.