Several years ago while touring the Imperial War Museum in London, I came across a small picture from the Great War (World War I). The picture depicted British and German soldiers playing football! How much football was played is uncertain, but it is documented that over 100,000 British and German troops took part in the unofficial cease-fire at Christmas in 1914, all along the Front. In some cases this lasted until New Years Day! They gathered together, exchanged souvenirs, sang carols together, and shared stories.
What would prompt such an event within such a blood-bathed war? There was a shared heritage in both cultures. That heritage was the Christian faith. It could well be argued that there would have been a large percentage of unconverted men taking part, nonetheless, Christmas was something that both sides valued culturally.
What is the Value of Christmas?
Christmas celebrates an act of reconciliation. Jesus came into the world for one grand purpose. Luke 2:11 reads, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.” We need saving! Jesus, entering our world, is God saying, “I have a way to reconcile my enemies to me.” This is what I love about the Christmas Truce. There are enemies who engage in acts of peace. Sadly, within days, the artillery was soaring through the air again, and rifles were trained on the other side. There was no reconciliation. It was only a taste of what reconciliation could look like.
God and Sinners Reconciled
The carol “Hark The Herald Angel” says this in the first verse:
Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.
Peace on earth. God and sinners reconciled. The former can never happen without the latter. Why is there strife and war? I do not mean only between nations but within households, neighbours, colleagues, and classmates. Why? James 4:1 reads, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” The enemy and the war are within. Jesus came to reconcile our hearts that are at war with God to God. This is the type of peace that the Bible calls shalom. It is not a mere absence of hostility, but the presence of favour, love, and joy.
Is there hostility between you and God? Maybe you are warring with him, unwilling to yield in some area of your life. Are you living in a Cold War in one of your relationships? Maybe, you are waiting for them to initiate reconciliation with you, when God calls those who are reconciled to be ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21). Jesus didn’t enter our hostile war to bring a truce. He came to bring peace. He came to make his enemies his friends (Romans 5:10). This is why the angel says, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10).