Around the holidays, I can’t help but look back and reminisce on the events that took place over the past year. This year was entirely too eventful, if you ask me. New physical pain has crept into my life and my sweet husband found himself in the same boat, sadly. It was a blur of history-making political issues and elections. Protests and hate have consumed our country – a country so needing Jesus now more than ever. But as Christmas approaches, I can’t help but yearn for a truce. I long for love pouring out of our grateful, full hearts to those we claim as enemies. And I believe it’s possible – it has happened one time in history. They do say history repeats itself, right?
In the winter of 1914, during World War 1, German and British troops were at war. Yet, at the first light on Christmas Day, some of the German soldiers came out of their trenches calling out “Merry Christmas” to the British soldiers. Not only did they wish their enemies a Merry Christmas, but they even said it in English for the British troops to understand. Let’s think on this for a moment. You are at war and the enemy not only comes out of their trenches, but they start approaching you saying, “Merry Christmas” in your language. I can’t imagine what must have been going through their minds! Was this a trick? I’m not sure I would have trusted this huge act of outreach from the German soldiers.
But it wasn’t a trick. The German soldiers had even unarmed themselves before making their way over to the British troops. Somehow, for some reason, the British troops trusted them, and what followed warms my heart. These soldiers, enemy combatants to each other, exchanged Christmas presents and traded goods. They sang Christmas carols together and even played a game of soccer. Why? Simply, because it was Christmas. “All the believers were together and had everything in common.” Acts 2:44
What a respect Christmas Day held for them – a day worthy to stop fighting and celebrate the birth of our Savior. A Savior to ALL men, no matter the skin tone or geographical origin. As a nation, do we celebrate Christmas with the same respect these soldiers held in 1914? They had just begun the largest war in history to date, yet they knew what Christmas was all about. They had waged a truce of love.
“God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him.” 1 John 4:9
As Christians, we know what Christmas is all about – the greatest gift ever given. God sent His Son, Jesus, to the world to make a way for us. We all know the manger scene and the star that led the shepherds to the new baby King. Yet, even with this knowledge, we tend to have our holiday attention askew. It’s as though Christmas has turned into flying wrapping paper on Christmas morning, with some going into debt to make happen. It’s cookies perfectly decorated and devoured. It’s overeating just because we can – Christmas calories don’t count right? But, loving our fellow man, especially those we don’t see eye to eye with, on Christmas Day is something we don’t see very often these days. Yes, we buy presents for others, we gather together with friends and family, and we even go to church. But, would we celebrate with our worst enemies on that day? Most likely not. Christmas is celebrated with family and friends and those we love, and that’s a good thing. But what about our enemies? On that day, is there a truce from the fighting? Do you gather around the table with that person you are harboring hate towards? Most of us don’t. We may forget about that situation and continue the hate in our hearts until after the holidays. Is that really what God wants from us?
No. Jesus commanded us, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” Luke 6:27 Now, that doesn’t just say on Christmas, obviously. But what Jesus is doing here is showing us how to change our hearts. I believe that is a very important Christmas lesson that gets overlooked. God changed so many hearts with the birth of His Son, all because He loved us so much to send His only Son to save us from ourselves. There are countless people from the Bible that had their hearts changed by Jesus. But, I’m most grateful He chose to change mine.
Jesus is commanding (not merely suggesting), that we allow our hearts to be changed towards those we consider enemies. And what tool does He give us to do it? Love. I believe, at least some of those troops were so full of Jesus’s love, that they just couldn’t keep it inside that Christmas morning. They wanted to celebrate with everyone and rejoice in the first and best gift they were ever given. They called a truce, at least for that day, to share in the love Christmas brings. I wonder if it had been their very best Christmas. For some, who would die in battle the very next day, it was their last Christmas. But, even still, what a special day that was for them – a truce unlike all others.
This Christmas, will you allow your heart to be changed? Will this be the year you thaw that frozen part of your heart and allow love to flow freely? Imagine what our country would be like if we all loved our God first and our neighbors as ourselves, no matter their viewpoint or the election results. Sounds like a good start to a great year. Don’t you think?