It must have been the most unreal Christmas ever! The year was 1914 – planet earth had never seen so much hostility and fighting as in that year – the year the world was at war – World War I. On the front lines of battle, fighting to hold off the cold of winter’s snow, the English and the German soldiers held one another off.
Lodged in trenches dug miles long on either side, the troops fired machine guns, mortars, shelled each other with rockets day after cold, wintery day. In the middle was no man’s land. A place where neither British nor German dared to venture–no one could survive in no man’s land.
Then came Christmas Eve, 1914. Suddenly, the sound of rifles and the boom of explosives stopped. Replaced with nothing but silence. Accounts by British soldiers tell of how surreal this night seemed. All shooting ceased, and soon, talking could be heard, laughter and singing could be heard across no-man’s land. The British troops climbed out of the trenches, feeling vulnerable in the moonlight, but curious as well.
Suddenly, they heard “Hoch, hoch, hoch.” They flinched and crouched down, ready for bullets to whiz over their heads, but instead, they saw a strange light being lifted up in front of the German’s trench. It was a Christmas tree. It was midnight. Christmas day had come. From the frozen mist of the enemy trenches rose a rich baritone voice singing in German “Silent Night, holy night, all is calm, all is light.” It was so strange – so unreal. Like suddenly seeing the light from another world breaking through this dark nightmare.
A voice in the darkness shouted in English, “Come over here.” One of our sergeants shouted, “Come over here!” “You come half-way; I come half-way” floated back the concession. They watched as the sergeant crept out to the middle of no-man’s land. Several minutes later, he returned with a few German cigars which he had exchanged for some of the cakes and cookies that had been sent to the front line.
The next day, Christmas day, was a crystal clear, cloudless blue day. The whole Spirit of Christmas seemed to have cut right through the coldness of war. There was an indescribable something in the air. By the middle of the day, right there in the middle of no-man’s land, was a throng of British soldiers, mixed with about the same number of German soldiers. Not shooting, not fighting, not hurling insults at the inhumane enemy – but there was laughing and joking – exchanging of food and drink and trinkets and wishing one another a Merry Christmas.
There was not an atom of hate on either side that day. It was like a supernatural love for even the enemy descended from heaven. Many exchanged addresses with promises to write each other after the war. As one soldier later wrote, “I think I have seen one of the most extraordinary sights today that anyone has ever seen.” One of the Germans said, “We don’t want to kill you, and you don’t want to kill us. So why shoot?” For a week, there was peace. And yet, a week later, the fighting resumed. Back to the world as usual. But what an unreal Christmas!
We are all in a war that no one really wants to fight! Jesus came to bring peace on earth. And yet even among people who hold Him as their Prince of Peace, we fight—in marriages, in friendships, with others in the church, with parents, with brothers and sisters. Why? What is it that makes two people who were once friends, never talk because of one conversation both parties wished had never happened? What is it that keeps spouses fixated on the little things that irritate or divide them, rather than the good things that drew them together in the first place? What is it that causes family gatherings at Christmas to be so stressful?
This is a world at war. But the enemy is NOT your spouse, your ex-spouse, your stubborn coworker, boss, irritating relative, mom, dad, son, or daughter. The enemy fights with spiritual weapons of accusation carefully fired into our minds in the first person, “How dare she say that—I’m not gonna take this.” “Can you believe what he just did—he meant to do that!” “She just called me lazy and worthless—well she’s….”
The enemy tricks us into fighting his war by firing condemning, accusatory, divisive, distrusting, negative counter-intelligence into our minds right where we were wounded before. And if we don’t check it out with the person, give the benefit of the doubt, it works! But we don’t have to fight this battle anymore. We don’t have to listen to lies reinforcing the hurt. We don’t have to serve our pride that keeps us stubbornly entrenched in a senseless battle.
“If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:17-18). The reason for the season—the reason Christ came was to make us new. We don’t have to fight these wars no one wants to fight. We have been reconciled—made at peace with God—so that we can bring reconciliation to all our relationships. Where is it that you need to take the risk to venture back out into no-man’s land and offer reconciliation this Christmas season? Ask the Lord—He will show you. Peace IS why He came.