Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests. Luke 2:14.
God is in the middle of the Christmas story. If God is not in the middle of it we will never find the peace we seek.
Country music star Travis Tritt spent many years playing out-of-the-way joints before he made it big in the music industry. He reports that many of the bars were dangerous places, with drunken fans starting fights over the smallest matters. But Tritt found a unique way to keep the peace in such situations. He says:
"'Silent Night' proved to be my all-time lifesaver. Just when [bar fights] started getting out of hand, when bikers were reaching for their pool cues and rednecks were heading for the gun rack, I'd start playing 'Silent Night.' It could be the middle of July. I didn't care. Sometimes they'd even start crying, standing there watching me sweat and play Christmas carols."
The power of that song in the lives of sloshed red-necks and bikers is amazing. But then, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. It obviously awakened a memory of something in them that all of us want: the peace the song celebrates. Most of us go looking for it in the wrong places; if not in the bottom of a bottle, or at the end of a broken pool cue, then perhaps in our jobs, or our successes, or our possessions, or some other empty thing.
But British theologian C.S. Lewis reminds us of something important:
A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on himself. He himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to (give us peace or) make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.
That’s the longing of the whole earth, isn’t it? Except for a few crazy people like the terrorists, everyone wants peace, everyone wants happiness. Peace in our hearts, peace in our minds, peace in our homes, our families, our cities, and our world. We write songs about it. Diplomats produce treaty after treaty to secure it. The baby boom generation made a cultural revolution out of pursuing it. Yet still it eludes us. We don’t have it because – like the guys in Tritt’s story – we leave God out of our pursuit of peace.
God is in the middle of the Christmas story. The birth of Jesus was the opening stanza in the song of peace he began to sing to us through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of his son. If we are to find the peace we seek, we have to learn to sing it with him.Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.