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Do you think it’s possible to experience peace of any kind in a world so bent upon envy, disruption, violence, and sin?

Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #125 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.

Christmas is a time we typically think good thoughts about family, friends, and oh yes, peace. But the world is anything but peaceful Christmas 2023.

The Ukraine struggles against Russian aggression, Sudan finds itself once again in a senseless, brutal civil war, and the Holy Land is immersed in war as Israel attempts, as they say, “to eradicate Hamas,” in response to Hamas’s barbaric unprovoked, surprise attack killing, maiming, raping, and kidnapping hundreds of Israelis, Oct 7, 2023.

Christmas, though, is about peace. Isaiah 9:6 announced, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Jesus’s peace, as we sometimes assume, is not necessarily physical safety and political harmony.

The babe in the manger who became the Savior because of Calvary and the Resurrection, said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid,” Jn 14:27.

The Hebrew word for peace is shalom, commonly used as Jewish greeting. Shalom in this verse means more than just the absence of war. It references all kinds of peace: wholeness, welfare, physical health, quietness, mental and emotional stability. It means “an appearance of calm and tranquility of individuals, groups, and nations”…and “the deeper, more foundational meaning of peace is “the spiritual harmony brought about by an individual’s restoration with God.” 

This reminds me of the beloved Christmas carol, “Silent Night.” My SAT-7 colleague Dennis Wiens recently observed, “Josef Mohr, a Salzburg clergyman, wrote the lyrics in 1816, just after the Napoleonic Wars. (His) congregation in Mariapfarr (Austria) was reeling from the war, which had decimated the country's political and social infrastructure. The song's message of peace was sent into a time marked by war, hunger, disease, and natural disasters.”

Two years later, “Josef walked to a hill overlooking his town one evening. This quiet time, alone, allowed him to process and reflect as he and the town prepared for Christmas Eve 1818.

“Reveling in the majestic silence of a wintry night, Mohr looked over the Christmas card-like scene of his town. He reflected on a Christmas play he had just watched that triggered his memory of a poem he had written a couple of years before. That poem was about the night angels announced the birth of the long-awaited Messiah to shepherds on a hillside. Mohr decided those words might make a good carol for his congregation the following evening at their Christmas Eve service. The one problem was that he didn't have any music to which that poem could be sung.”

“So, the next day, Mohr went to see the church organist, Franz Xaver Gruber, “a local schoolteacher who the next year became the organist of Old Saint Nicholas Church. By that evening, Gruber had managed to compose a musical setting for the poem. That the church organ was inoperable no longer mattered to Mohr and Gruber. They now had a Christmas carol that could be sung without an organ.”

“The now-famous carol was first performed as "Stille Nacht Heilige Nacht," Josef Mohr, the young priest who wrote the lyrics, played the guitar and sang along with Franz Xaver Gruber, the choir director who had written the melody.” It was later first performed in the United States in New York City in 1839.

“The contrast between the carol's message of tranquility and hope and the violence during a time marked by war, hunger, disease, social upheaval, and natural disasters is obvious and compelling.”

“It was sung in churches, in town squares, and even on the battlefield during World War I, when soldiers sang carols from home during a temporary truce on Christmas Eve. It's considered the Christmas carol that paused a war!”

“Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace

Sleep in heavenly peace!”

The prophet Isaiah also reminded us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord” (Is 55:8-9). So, he does not always immediately bring peace in the face of war, as he could, in part because he knows that people are drawn to him at such times and perhaps in part because he grants human beings the opportunity to choose to seek him and to do right versus wrong.

Human beings want peace; we want the world on our terms. The Beatle’s John Lennon wrote at least two songs about peace, one in 1969 called “Give Peace a Chance,” an anti-war statement that reads like he must have been high when he wrote it. The gibberish lyrics make no sense, but still, the phrase “Give Peace a Chance” caught on for a time. The problem is, Lennon offered no basis for accomplishing his dream, no acknowledgement of sin and evil, no way of redemption, no spiritual means of achieving peace, and certainly not achieving it on our own.

The other Lennon song about peace became his anthem and legacy. “Imagine” was released in 1971, becoming the best-selling song of his career and has now been covered by more than 200 artists.  

Why is “Imagine” so popular? Aside from its catchy tune, it’s an idealistic secularist view of the world. Anyone can embrace the song’s longings. It imagines a world without disturbance, in other words, peace. Lennon says,

“Imagine there's no heaven

It's easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there's no countries

It isn't hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people living life in peace”

Certainly, we can relate to John Lennon’s desire to live a life of peace, but sadly, the utopian dreams he recommends for achieving peace aren’t real. Lennon’s aspirations are spiritual dead ends. 

John Lennon’s song Imagine is frequently used as a call for peace and unity. It’s an especially common selection in response to acts of violence.”

“Critics often note that what Lennon depicts is end-stage communism: the pursuit of which has been the cause of millions of deaths throughout history.”

Actually, “history disproves Lennon’s optimism. A denial of heaven and hell does not result in world peace—quite the opposite, in fact. The worst human atrocities—counter to the rest of Lennon’s vision, ironically—have been driven by an atheistic rejection of the afterlife and the removal of religion from society. When leaders assume there is nothing “above” man, the result is usually genocide: witness Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, and others who saw themselves as the highest authority.”

Hamas says they serve the Islamic conception of God, Allah. But their way of serving is anger, fear, destruction, brutality, and killing. And there is no peace.

Back to Lennon: there is a heaven, and there is a hell, and there is religion, and if properly understood in biblical terms, God has given us the prescription we need to seek peace and through his Son the Lord Jesus Christ, to experience it. 

The Prince of Peace, Immanuel “God with us,” born as the incarnated God-Man in a manger about two thousand years ago is God’s answer to mankind’s “relational dilemma,” that is, our broken relationship with God, others, and creation. Scripture says, “therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Rom 5:1).

Jesus Christ is the only reason we can truly live peacefully with God and in peace with others and creation.

The Prince of Peace is the reason for the season.

Jesus did not stay a baby in a manger but became the Savior whose sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection made our redemption possible, and makes peace possible.

Jesus Christ is called the Prince of Peace because He restores every broken relationship, provides for a well-ordered and balanced life, and offers the assurance of eternal life” to all who call upon him.

Peace be with you this Christmas.

Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s 

And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2023   

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