"And on earth peace, good will toward men." This is one of the most oft-quoted scriptures, particularly at this season of the year. A prayer of hope. A ray of light in a dark world. And, unfortunately, a so far unfulfilled promise!
The scripture applies to Christ, the Prince of Peace, and is more correctly rendered, "... peace on earth toward men of goodwill." The dove of peace is a weary and wary bird, endlessly searching throughout blood-soaked history for a resting place and finding none. There will be no peace until King Christ personally rules all earth in His Kingdom soon to come.
Peace is ever elusive. Men speak peace and make war. Peace treaties are for the purpose of giving men time to gather strength for the next war — and are of themselves all too often the very cause of the next war!
We forget the prophet's stern warning to beware of those who say, "Peace, peace!" when there is no peace (Jer. 6:14; 8:11). We forget the repeated maxim: "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked" (Isa. 57:21). We forget that Jesus said, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword" (Matt. 10:34). We forget that one of the main signs that heralds the returning Christ is "wars and rumors of wars" (Matt. 24:6) — which sign, if we look around today's world, we see fulfilled to its greatest extent in history! We forget the blood drenched prophecies of the book of Revelation which culminate in that horrible word "Armageddon" — all of which must come to pass before the Prince brings peace to earth!
Why do we have wars? The answer is given very plainly by James: "Isn't it because there is a whole army of evil desires within you? You want what you don't have, so you kill to get it. You long for what others have, and can't afford it, so you start a fight to take it away from them. And yet the reason you don't have what you want is that you don't ask God for it. And even when you do ask you don't get it because your whole aim is wrong — you want only what will give you pleasure" (James 4:1-3, The Living Bible).
As long as there is even one group of men left on earth who covets what some other group has, we will continue to have wars. When one person within a society exercises this lustful desire, it is called a crime;
when one society exercises that desire against another society, it is called a "just war"! Just war — that's all!
Let's take a very brief look around this war-crazy world of ours.
The Soviets want to bring the entire world under their domination and will go to any lengths to achieve that goal: they want what everyone else has. The U.S. wants "peace" because it already has more than any other nation and wants to keep it and 'enjoy it. The Palestinians want the land which the Jews now have and are openly determined to take it — and beyond that, many among them will not be satisfied by simply taking but will not rest until the last Israeli has been "pushed into the sea"!
The Chinese want what the Soviets have because proportionately they have more than the Chinese; but the Soviets want "peace" with their renegade Red brothers because they want to keep what they have (and get more) and enjoy it!
The blacks of Africa want "freedom" from the colonial power left to whites because they want what someone else has developed on their land. The whites want "peace" because they want to keep what they have and enjoy it. And badly, those blacks who have achieved "freedom" are living under some of the bloodiest, cruelest, most dominating dictatorships known to mankind.
Even the "liberals" are making sounds of concern. George McGovern, onetime candidate for President of the United States, has called for a U.N. expeditionary force to put a stop to the "holocaust in Cambodia." Too little too late. And what about the twenty million or more who perished in the purges which put Stalin in control of the Soviet "Union"? Or what about the more than thirty million Chinese who were executed to make China safe for communism?
It is not a peaceful world — and it will get increasingly less so with each passing year.
But you can achieve peace as an individual, even in the midst of a war-torn world. Christ's peace is available now to all who seek it — and will be available to all mankind when He comes to establish His Kingdom, after the many wars yet to come.
Please make your individual choice of peace on earth! Why not?