Probably the most familiar words of the Christmas story are that of the angels who appeared to the shepherds and proclaimed, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men." (Luke 2:14 KJV).
Skeptics often point to this verse to make their case against Christ. "Where is this peace?" they ask. Many, because of the lack of peace in our world, have determined that either there cannot really be a God and, if there is, He certainly isn't the God of the Bible.
We use the pain and suffering of this world to make a case against God. Let's examine this in this column.
Suppose for a moment that you and I had some sort of disagreement, a falling out. You were angry at me over some perceived slight on my part, and every chance you got you were telling people what a horrible person you believe me to be.
Of course, you wouldn't say that it was your belief that I was horrible, you'd simply tell people how horrible I was, ignoring any reference to the fact that your information was how you felt about me.
Now suppose I found out about your dislike of me, and I came to you to make amends. But you don't want anything to do with my offer and you reject the peace offering that I bring, as well as my offer to make things right.
At that point, is the problem mine or yours? I've done all I can do to rectify the problem, now what happens is entirely up to you.
The same is true with God. How can we blame God for the lack of peace in our world when we reject the Prince of Peace? The people of Jesus' day said, "We will not have this man rule over us!" We have willingly and gladly followed their lead ever since.
We don't even want to allow people to say Merry Christmas. We want to rid the public square of any hint of Christianity. And, from what I've been reading lately, it seems that there are those who what to make it illegal to put up a symbol of the Christian faith anywhere that it might be seen from a public thoroughfare.
We reject the Prince of Peace, and then we complain that this world has no peace. The really sad thing is that we are so against the things of God that we don't see the paradox in our stance. We reject God's peace, and then we blame Him for not giving us peace.
Recently, I read an article that claimed Tim Tebow is one of the most divisive players in the NFL. His crime? He has the audacity to speak of his faith in public.
So we decry the Tebows of life for setting a positive example and then wonder why there are so many thugs among the ranks of the NFL. We force the Ten Commandments into various closets around the nation and then wonder why so many perversions are now coming out of the closets. Wake up and smell the coffee folks.
The peace promised by the angels on that first Christmas night was a peace that is dependent upon the acceptance of the Prince who brought that peace. Reject Him if you want, but don't turn around and claim that God is the one responsible for the lack of peace in this world.
Here's what I know: We will never have peace in our world until we have peace within our own individual nations. We will never have peace in our nations until we have peace within our own neighborhoods, until we learn to get along with one another.
We will never have peace in our own neighborhoods until we have peace in our families. We will never have peace in our families until we can live at peace with ourselves, and we will never have peace in ourselves until we are at peace with the God who created us.
Leave God out, and you will never know true peace. Accept Him into your heart and life, and you will know peace, even in the most troubling of circumstances.
Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington, GA.. For more information visit the Gateway website at www.gatewaycommunity.org.