You know the Christmas carol.
I heard the bells on Christmas day. Their old familiar carols play. And wild and sweet the words repeat of peace on earth, good will to men.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the 3rd verse of that carol recently.
And in despair I bowed my head: “There is no peace on earth,” I said,“For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Hate is a word I very deliberately try to keep out of my vocabulary. Yes, I embrace hatred for sin and all of the things that the Bible tells us God hates, but in my heart, I choose not to hate anyone. I don’t even allow myself to say I hate certain foods, certain football teams or certain annoying medical procedures such as root canals. I definitely chastise any of the grandchildren who might mention hating something or someone. I think the word itself is toxic. It has the capacity to harm us deep down inside.
Yet, hate is everywhere in our world right now, and the results are devastating. As I mentioned in several posts recently, Steve and I were in New York at the beginning of December. This year Hanukkah fell on December 2-10, so we were in the city for the first two nights. Right outside our hotel “The World’s Largest Menorah” was erected, and each night one of the lights was ceremoniously lit. I suspect that in years past there have been great throngs of Jewish people who gathered for the occasion. Yet, this year, the crowd seemed small. No doubt there was some fear and apprehension about gathering in such a place and then becoming a target for anti-semitic extremists, such as the deranged man who entered a synogogue in Philadelphia and gunned down 11 innocent people while they were having a prayer service in late October. News reports described it as a “terrible and unspeakable act of hate.”
At the 9-11 Memorial, we saw the place where one of the most horrendous attacks, fueled by hatred for America, took place. Thousands of lives were snuffed out and thousands more have suffered the consequences.
On the news night after night, we see our own governmental leaders spewing hate and venom toward each other and watch the sectarian violence occurring constantly in countries around the world.
My friends, this is NOT what God wants for His people.
In John 13:35, Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you LOVE one another.“
What about it? What would it be like if this Christmas season we purposely put on love? How would it feel to choose to love that relative or neighbor or acquaintance or even a fellow church member with whom we disagree? How would it look to love store owners, restaurant servers or other shoppers waiting in line with us? Is it possible that we would be recognized as disciples of Christ if we “wore” love in these days?
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good will to men.” . . . . AND LOVE.