That belief is badly mistaken — it is actually the polar opposite of the truth. There is evidence that suggests if Christian spirit were allowed to rule the world, there might truly be peace on earth.
The true story of the 1914 Christmas Truce reminds us that peace IS possible, but only for men of good will. Peace doesn’t come from wishful thinking.
A century ago, all was quiet on the Western front. The first war that involved the whole world had almost ended as quickly as it began. And Christian spirit was largely responsible.
The night was Christmas Eve, 1914. Only five months after World War I began, British and German soldiers were dug into trenches formed along the Western front, where they watched each other from a relatively safe distance. Bodies littered the barren turf of no-man’s land separating the two armies.
Naturally, the British troops were quite surprised when they heard the Germans begin to sing in the quiet night. They knew the tune, but the words were in a foreign language.
Private Frank Sumter was one of the first to recognize the Christmas carol. Years later, he recalled the occasion, saying, “…and then we heard the Germans singing Silent Night, Holy Night. I said, “C’mon, boys. Let’s join in with the song.”
Then on Christmas morning, a German soldier tentatively emerged from the trenches. He held up a small Christmas tree adorned with lit candles before bravely crossing the open field in front of the readied guns of the British, extending an offering of peace to men that had been his mortal enemy the previous day.
Soon troops from both sides had emerged from their trenches to exchange food and other small gifts. Next, British and German troops began working together as they dug graves and buried their dead.
Joint funeral services were held. Soldiers began to treat each other as human beings, not lambs for slaughter. Men who had been desperately trying to kill “the enemy” days earlier were cooperating with each other. They had lost all desire to maim and kill each other simply for wearing the wrong color uniform.
The truce remained in effect after Christmas. Troops who days earlier exchanged gifts with their “enemy” found it impossible to resume the bloodshed. However, the powers-that-be would have none of that. The officers and generals not dying in the trenches were forced to intervene before fighting resumed. An artillery bombardment was ordered that shattered the peace.
Then a British officer visiting the trenches after Christmas grabbed a rifle and murdered an unarmed German soldier to provoke new hostilities. The war had begrudgingly resumed.
By the following Christmas, millions more of these brave young men were dead. In total, sixteen million people were killed during World War I, manipulated by their respective governments run by politicians far from the front lines so they might blow up each other with bombs, shred the opposing forces with machine gun fire, or poison them with mustard gas.
Unfortunately, the generals on each side had also learned their lesson from that Christmas truce of 1914. Orders were passed down the following December declaring any informal armistices at Christmas would be considered treason, giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
Humans have to be taught to hate, and how best to kill their fellow man.
God is the giver of life. But God also gives us free will. We can choose to maim and kill each other.
God allows us to choose evil. Or we can choose Him.
The message we can learn from the Christmas truce of 1914 seems crystal clear: the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
But only if we allow it.