Will the war be over by Christmas?
Ninety-eight years ago, the men of two huge armies faced each other across the fields and woods of Belgium and France and prepared for their first Christmas of the Great War.
At nightfall on Christmas Eve there was an outbreak of peace and goodwill among British and German soldiers. It was a beautiful moonlit night. The air was still and frost covered the ground. This unusual quietness was broken by the sound of ‘Silent night’ and other carols coming from the German trenches.
The British troops then watched in astonishment as Christmas trees adorned with lighted candles appeared on the German parapets. Greetings were exchanged; the unofficial truce had begun.
By noon on Christmas Day the whole British-German front was given over to a spirit of goodwill and reconciliation. No-man’s land was crowded with men swapping jam for cigars and sharing bottles of Schnapps.
In some places, even an impromptu football match took place. But the unofficial truce didn’t last. The mood of reconciliation evaporated and the men of the two armies went to war again.
These events serve as a parable for our time. All year long, people are at war with God. They’re indifferent to his voice in the Bible, hostile to his commands and live to please themselves.
Yet at Christmas many come out from their trenches. They go to church, sing carols and name the name of Jesus. There is a spirit of peace and goodwill and many have conciliatory thoughts towards the ‘babe of Bethlehem’.
But in the end there is no real change and no final peace. The mood of reconciliation passes with the season and people soon return to their trenches, determined to keep Jesus Christ from invading their world.
How will you spend this Christmas? A temporary truce, but ultimately un-reconciled to your Maker? If we continue to war against God, then, says the Bible, our defeat is inevitable. The war is unequal.
But the war could be over this Christmas! ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life’.
God opens a door onto our weary, cold, broken world and through it streams the light and warmth of his love. And he says — ‘Seek me, find me, know me, obey me, enjoy me, love me; let’s talk of peace and reconciliation; let’s speak of things that have never entered your head; everlasting life through my Son.’
This Christmas, God invites us to meet him. Jesus by his sufferings and death on the cross has done everything necessary to reconcile us to God. He is the Prince of peace.
The Bible says, ‘When we were enemies we were reconciled to God through his Son’. Why not take God at his word? The good news of Jesus is not an enemy to be repelled, but a friend to be welcomed.
Those who lay down their arms and unconditionally surrender to Christ the Lord find true forgiveness, a new life and peace with God.