Where’s the Peace?

In 1984, Wendy’s ran an ad that featured three elderly women looking over a hamburger that was mostly bun. One of the three blurted out, “Where’s the beef?”

The catchphrase took on a life of its own. It became a buzzword meaning, “Where’s the substance? Where’s the truth?” Politicians even picked it up to question each other’s follow-through in promises of change.

When I pick up Luke 2:14, I want to ask that old question again. Because the angels seem to promise something, and when I look around, it’s not what I see.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:14 )

We all love that phrase. Peace on earth. We decorate our nation with that slogan every year during Christmastime. We put it on plates, on cards, and it lights up our yards in elaborate displays.

But where’s the peace? I sure don’t see it. Terrorist attacks on the US, the ongoing escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Violence in Eastern Ukraine, the North Korean Crisis, civil war in Iraq, the armed confrontation in the South China Sea, cyberattacks, instability in Afghanistan, the civil war in Syria, Iran’s nuclear ambitions… Where’s the peace?

I’m not the first to wonder this. Longfellow wrote these lines in “I heard the bells.”

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.

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

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.”

In effect, the poem is demanding answers to that very question.

But would it surprise you if I said that Jesus never promised peace?

In Matthew 10:34, he says, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth.”

We miss the point because of the translation. A more careful reading of Luke reveals that it doesn’t say, “Peace on earth good will to men.” Listen to the New American Standard translation:

Peace on earth among men with whom he is pleased.

This isn’t talking about global peace. Its about personal peace. That’s the peace Jesus brought. Peace between men and god. Peace in yourself. Peace among brothers.

So where’s the peace? Its right here. Inside of me and you. Jesus gave it to us as a Christmas present.

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