Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward Man

Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward Man

It’s long standing tradition to personify the blessing of “peace on earth and goodwill toward man” at Christmastime. Why we don’t all year long, I don’t know. Perhaps we should. For if there is anything we could use a little more of in America these days, it’s “peace and goodwill toward man”

Our nation is suffering from more division than ever before in modern history. Our culture is in the throes of an unofficial civil war, with both sides condemning the other as evil, hateful and dangerous.

We see ordinarily mild-mannered people walking around with hearts heaving with rage and their pockets stuffed full of righteous indignation… and not a shred of doubt their point of view is above reproach and should not be questioned.

It’s Right vs. Left

Democrat vs. Republican

Conservative vs. Progressive

Religious vs. Secular

Each side feeling justified in their anger and condemnation of the other.

It’s all hogwash.

It really doesn’t matter which side of the debate you’re on. Evil behavior is evil. No one wins the moral high ground using insults and slurs. By the way, “Racist, sexist, bigot, homophobe…” isn’t even an intelligent argument. They are hateful labels slapped on people in order to make hating them super easy and very self-satisfying.

We’re all a little outraged right now, aren’t we?

Demonizing those who oppose you makes it easy to bash them without any bothersome guilt.

We’re all a little outraged right now, aren’t we? Our sensibilities are attacked almost daily. If not face-to-face than in the news or on social media.  It’s pretty easy to lose one’s temper these days. There is much at stake for America and the kind of future we will have.

No wonder everyone is angry and upset!

We are losing our hold on peace. We are turning our backs on goodwill.

Don’t we all share the same moral obligation to promote peace and goodwill no matter how sharply we disagree? Yes and no. It all depends on where we draw the line for what is moral and what is not.

Atheists and agnostics use subjective philosophies as their standards for morality. Christians use the Bible. And the Bible gives us very specific standards for how we are to live and interact with those around us – even those with whom we disagree.

That means non-believers can take off the gloves in a fight, but a Believer must not.

This doesn’t mean we allow ourselves to be led like lambs to the slaughter, but it does mean that we have standards of behavior that carry the full weight of the Word of God. No matter how “right” your position seems to you, you don’t get a pass on honoring God in the way you behave toward others.

It’s in the most difficult moments of all when the wheat is separated from the chaff.

It’s Christians who are called to “love their neighbor as themselves”. Non-Christians have no such mandate.

It’s Christians who have the tenants of love spelled out in the Bible, not non-Christians.

It isn’t fair… but then, neither was the cross.

The “fruit of the Spirit” is a gift only imparted to those who have received Him. So, we can’t be shocked when people who haven’t received this gift don’t display it.

However…it was given to us. Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Faithfulness and Self-Control are fruit God has placed within the reach of His people 100% of the time.

Anger is a legitimate emotion. Outrage is a natural response. But neither are a license to trample our responsibility to represent Christ in how we live and love one another. Especially in view of non-believers (online counts too).

There is a growing anti-Christian movement in the United States. This is no time to throw caution to the wind where our reputation is concerned. If we are to be a light in this world we must make sure Light is what we put on display.

If you think it’s okay to demean and demoralize the people who don’t share your worldview you may need to dig a bit deeper into what the Bible has to say about pride and anger.

There is nothing more distasteful than an arrogant Christian.

There is nothing more distasteful than an arrogant Christian. Hands down.  No matter how right you think you are, it isn’t a win if you come from a place of hostility or moral superiority. When you do, it’s another loss for the Christian community.

I used to follow a Christian blogger who grew into an angry Christian-hating Christian. At first, I attributed his acrimony to passion boiling over in the heat of the moment. That happens to all of us at one time or another, so, not a big deal. But once Trump was elected he grew more and more angry and outraged. Ironically, he seems to feel the contempt he spews in his essays make him even more holy and righteous. He couldn’t be more wrong.

It was after reading his post where he said it was not possible for a person to be a true Christian and a Republican that I canceled my subscription. Not because of any political affiliation, but because I couldn’t stomach the toxic level of self-righteousness. Nor could I cosign that level of hatred toward people God so loves.

For the record, I don’t follow bloggers who lean too far in any direction. I wish they all would quiet down and humble up. Not only are they adding to the noise of the angry mob they are increasing the divisions between the Church and Society, Christian and non-Christian, Right and Left, Us and Them…

Those who don’t believe in the Bible are not required to live by what was written it. But if you claim to be a believer, you must consider what the Bible has to say about how you behave when you are angry, offended, outraged or simply dismayed by people you don’t understand.

It is not okay for you to mock or insult the people who disagree with your point of view even if they are mocking and insulting you and yours.

A fool gives full vent to their anger, but the wise man holds it in check.  Proverbs 29:11

At the end of the day, who do you want to serve; God or your own carnal need to extract a pound of flesh from someone who made you angry?

 “Control your temper, for anger labels you a fool.” Ecclesiastes 7:9

In the sight of our God would you choose being a fool over being wise?

 “A hot-tempered person starts fights; a cool-tempered person stops them.” Proverbs 15:18

WE are to demonstrate the better way.

In a society playing fast and loose without any rules for engagement, WE are to demonstrate the better way. We must rise above the fray and submit to the authority of God’s Word.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2

I could list a hundred more, but do I need to?

If you aren’t a Christian I don’t expect you to conform your behavior to the Word of God.

But if you are… I do.

Not only do you represent Christ with the way you behave, you represent us all.

By all means, stand up for what you believe to be true and right! Defend your position. Call out injustice. But watch out if you don’t learn to do it in a way that honors God.

“If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” Galatians 5:15

No one ever said it was going to be easy to be an emissary for peace on earth and goodwill toward man. But that’s the job.

In His love and service,

Sharon Bollum

 

 

3 COMMENTS
  • Laurie Scott
    Reply

    Thank you Sharon. A message for anyone who calls themselves a follower of Christ.

  • Marla Moss
    Reply

    Very nice thoughts for all Christians to remember!

  • Bart Nowotenski
    Reply

    Well said Sharon. As difficult as it can be, we do need to look beyond our differences and remember that we are all God’s Children. Your message has been helping me to remember this as I go about my day. Thank you!

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