The other day I went to LaSalette with my family and some good friends to see their Christmas display. After enduring the insane traffic we pulled up front and I saw something that really frustrated me. I saw the below image.
Let me explain why I was upset. Next to the biblical declaration, “Peace On Earth,” was placed the Jewish Star, the Muslim Crescent, and the Christian Cross. I hope it’s a no-brainer that I would be fully in support of earthly peace between religious groups. I do pray for peace and that violence would end.
My wife had no problem with the display and thought it was a nice gesture to encourage people to pray for peace. On that level I agree, and have no problems with it. But I think there are a lot of ways this display COULD be interpreted that caused (and continue to cause) me concern.
- It miscommunicates what Scripture means by declaring “Peace on Earth.” Certainly, there is a type of “Peace on Earth” that points to the desire for world peace and an end to violence and hatred. But when the angels declared, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests,” they were directly pointing to the truth that God is bringing peace between Himself and Men (and women). This Peace on Earth is not merely a human peace, but it is a peace that God creates between Himself and his people who had rebelled against him so they could be reconciled and their relationship made “right” again.
- It could easily be confused as radical tolerance. Does this display mean that the three religions are equally true? Does this mean that we all worship the same God? I do believe that Judaism and Christianity worship the same God, though the Jewish faith denies what the New Testament teaches about him, and is therefore incomplete for salvation. Don’t misunderstand me: I’m in full support of religious tolerance legally, the government should neither actively promote nor limit religious freedom – but tolerance assumes disagreement.
- It confuses God’s order for establishing Peace on Earth. The Peace and Joy we have because of Jesus Christ will transform our world and, in time, bring about the peace that the news continually reminds us we need. Jesus came to change our hearts and to reconcile us to God the Father. God’s plan was to redeem his people, and then to redeem his creation… when we cry out for “peace on earth” without first latching onto Christ for our peace then we are confusing God’s plan.
Again, I fully support and earnestly pray for peace between followers of different religions. But seeing this display at a Christian Christmas lights display simply hit me as out of place, especially since there it was just there with no clarification of it’s desired meaning.
At Christmas-time when we see “Peace on Earth” and “Joy to the World” all over the place, I sometimes feel like Charlie Brown crying out, “Can’t anyone tell me what Christmas is all about!?” These wonderfully rich phrases are promises given to us by God, and they only come through Jesus Christ – the baby who was born in the feeding trough (aka: manger).
Peace and Joy have come, that’s something to celebrate! That’s something that we should pray for the people of other religions around the world to know and understand and believe! SO if the picture above serves as a call for ministry to communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ to the Jewish and Muslim communities, then I wholeheartedly support it… I just don’t think that’s what it was trying to say.
Maybe I am simply too much of a grinch to enjoy a Christmas display with family and friends. Am I simply reading way too much into this, or do you also see reasons to be concerned?