One of the most puzzling promises ever made was uttered on that first Christmas morn. A multitude of heavenly hosts hovered over the shepherds of Bethlehem celebrating the birth of the Christ child. They sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14 – KJV
Peace on earth? Today it’s more like earth in pieces! Sabers are rattling all over the globe and our political leaders are devouring one another. Pushing people off subway platforms has become a sport.
I work with people for a living. I would estimate that probably half of those with whom I work have one or more family members that are alienated from them. Where is the peace on earth of which the angels sang?
It may be in Kermit West Virginia!
Back in my days at Bible College my wife and I represented the school by singing at various constituent churches. On this particular Sunday morning we were headed to a Church in Kermit.
Kermit is buried in the hills of Mingo County on the banks of the Tug Fork River – the border between West Virginia and Kentucky.
It is the part of the country where some churches invite snakes into their worship services. Oh joy!
It is also the region known as the battlefield of an infamous family feud. This is where the Hatfields of West Virginia, waged a prolonged war with the McCoys of Kentucky.
The first bushwhacking took place in 1865 at the hands of a Hatfield. Retaliation took place in 1878 when a Hatfield was murdered for his testimony in court. In 1882 there was dispute over a fiddle. One McCoy died and 3 Hatfields were tied to a tree and executed. The feud continued for 25 years, leaving behind 12 graves.
So, I wondered, “What kind of church would I find in Kermit?” Would we be met at the door by Jed Clampett and his shotgun? Do they use moonshine for Communion? Will a McCoy be invited to handle a snake?
We arrived and entered the building and were warmly greeted by everyone that saw us. In talking with the various church members, it was clear that this was a high-quality church. They majored on the majors and reflected biblical truth in every way.
I was not surprised to meet several Hatfields there, but I was stunned to meet some McCoys. The church sat on real estate that once separated the two warring families – but in this church the families were now joined in sweet fellowship.
I was genuinely amazed at the way the Gospel had erased the inbred bitterness. This was a congregation that genuinely loved one another and their loved spilled over the banks of the Tug Fork.
On the walls in the foyer were pictures of missionary families. These families were fanned out across the globe to reach tribes and nations for Jesus. The church financially and prayerfully supported those missionaries. Formally feuding families were reaching the families of the world.
Peace all over the place – the kind that the angels had in mind. It’s a wonderful thing and we need more of it.
The Scripture says, “we love because He first loved us.” I wonder if we could also say, “we make peace because He first made peace with us.” Peace begins with Jesus but needs to be distributed to those around us.
It’s an obligation in fact. Hebrews 12:14 says, “Pursue peace with everyone.” We may not always catch peace, but we can sure pursue it. Because we have been crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20), it is easier to do. Dead folks don’t have ego issues.
So, think on that person with whom you need to make peace and be the first one to say, “Hey I am sorry.”
A PRAYER: Lord this Christmas Season may we lay aside the pride and help others experience peace on earth!
This has been Jim Johnson and pickleheavenpress.com
May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.