Christmas Article: Peace On Earth, Good Will Toward Men

That is a common line on Christmas greeting cards. It sounds like a good idea, but what does it mean? Is it really possible to find peace? Is it really possible to have good will toward others?

Peace on a national level means freedom from war or hostilities. Peace on an individual level simply means freedom from conflict. If you would like to give someone peace for Christmas, what approach might you take?

Consider, for example, a parent who has a child who, for whatever reason, feels in conflict with one, or both, of his parents. What could the parent do to relieve this conflict? (I am not a psychologist, so I cannot offer any long-term solutions. But aren't long-term solutions usually comprised of a series of simple, short-term solutions?) I will make three suggestions.

First, the parent should be certain the child knows how he/she feels. The parent should demonstrate his/her love for the child. This should be expressed verbally by saying, "I love you" to the child. This should also be expressed physically, like a pat on the back or a hug.

Physical contact breaks down distance barriers. It lets a person know that he is not all alone in this world. It solidifies the memory of a person in our minds, making a temporary experience seem more permanent. The memory of a physical contact will provide peace and comfort in future situations longer than the memory of words alone will.

Secondly, the parent should spend more time alone with the child. They need to get to know each other and have time for a relationship to mend and to grow. People need time together if they are to resolve conflicts.

Finally, the parent should demonstrate his/her love for the other parent. A child needs love and security at home. When parents are in conflict, a child eventually takes sides. If the parents can be an example to their child and show that there really are no "sides," this lack of conflict will help to tear down barriers between the parents and the child.

What does this have to do with our relationships with Christ? We have all heard people say, "I would believe in God's love if only I had proof; if I could reach out and touch it." This is an example of what I said earlier about physical contact making a situation seem more real and lasting.

But didn't God reach out and touch us? Did not God come to earth in physical form in the personage of Jesus? Did not Jesus break down the distance barriers between God and man? Did not God "prove" His existence and His love for us by sending His only Son to die on the cross, to give us peace by bearing our sins?

God did demonstrate His love for us with physical contact and He did say, "I love you" to us. God did spend time with us. And He did provide an example of love and security in Jesus. If that isn't enough proof for you, would even a personal visit from God convince you? (By the way, you can receive a personal visit from God. The Holy Spirit can actually live within you.)

This is what God has done for us. But what can we do to demonstrate our love for Him? Do some of the same things Jesus did for us. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead your life. Spend time with God through prayer. Get to know Him better through Bible study. Come into contact with Him through fellowship with other Christians. And demonstrate your love for God by demonstrating your love for others.

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" Matthew 25:40

May you find peace and receive God's blessings this Christmas season.

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