". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Let Christmas Remind Us that Peace and Unity Are Only Eternal in Christ

December 25, 2023

It doesn’t take much to see that things on this earth are temporary. Friends come and go. Jobs and where you live change. Even emotionally, the episodes of joy or anxiety we experience prove those, too, are not permanent. Looking at history, we get countless examples of this.

In 1914, the “Christmas Truce” took place along the Western Front of the First World War. It was an unofficial ceasefire between the British and the Germans, and resulted in an event unlike any that came before it and remains a unique occurrence to this day.

As the story goes, the Germans were singing Christmas carols in the wet, cold trenches. Across the battle ground of “no man’s land,” the British began to sing along. But tensions rose when one of the German soldiers yelled across the plain, “Come over here.”

Skeptical of the command, a British sergeant yelled back, “You come half-way. I come half-way.”

As men from both sides hesitantly met in the middle, it became a one-of-a-kind mid-war interaction where the British and the Germans in this battle zone shook hands, laughed, and even played soccer together.

Many have doubted this occurrence, but photographs and journal entries that have been found over the years point to the event’s credibility. A soldier’s letter that appeared in The Irish Times in 1915 read, “Christmas has come and gone — certainly the most extraordinary celebration of it any of us will ever experience.” German Lieutenant Kurt Zehmisch’s diary was discovered in his attic in 1999. He wrote, “How marvelously wonderful, yet how strange it was. The English officers felt the same way about it. Thus Christmas, the celebration of Love, managed to bring mortal enemies together as friends for a time.”

This event in history is often referred to and acknowledged for the peace and unity it represents — especially as it strikes at the heart of Christmas. But if you follow that historical timeline, you’ll know that the very next day the soldiers went back to fighting and killing each other. And is that not bizarre?

Many military officials were upset at this truce because it went against the conduct of war. It was unheard of, reasonably so, for men to go from killing each other, to playing games with each other, back to killing each other within three days. And yet, even as remarkable as this occurrence was for everyone then and now, it is another example of how things on this earth simply don’t last. Zehmisch wrote in his diary that Christmas was able to “bring mortal enemies together as friends,” but only “for a time.” On earth, everything has an expiration date. Well, almost everything.

Whether you’re a theist, an atheist, a scientist, or a relativist, most can agree that human beings have souls, which is also part of what distinguishes us from the animals. However, where infinite ways of thinking start to disagree — what forms worldviews even — is what happens to that soul after death. An atheist, scientist, or relativist could give you any number possible explanations. But the theist, specifically the Christian, proclaims only two outcomes of the human soul after death. And where that soul goes is, in fact, eternal.

I’m not here to talk about both eternal outcomes, but only one of them. And that is the eternity offered for those who put their faith in Christ Jesus, because He is the only way to eternal peace and unity.

You see, the Christmas truce of 1914 is a fun story to hear. After all, it was a monumental moment of peace and unity in the middle of a catastrophic world war. But as noted, the peace and unity did not last. And to this day, we can see how moments of peace and unity here and there just don’t last. Yet, we yearn for it so deeply. However, the problem is not that we yearn for these things. The problem is that we look for them almost exclusively through what is temporary.

We look for peace and unity in the heat of war. We look for them in family and friends. We want our neighborhoods to be peaceful, or our jobs to represent unified collaboration. We look any and everywhere for even the slightest inclination of tranquil accord. And you can continue looking everywhere, but ignoring Christ means it, in a lasting sense, will never be found.

1 Corinthians 4:18b states, “For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” Whatever peace and unity we do see on earth is, as Paul described, transient. However, particularly at Christmas time, we are reminded of why Jesus’s birth, sinless life, death, and resurrection are so significant. Specifically, His resurrection.

When He came, He brought with Him peace. And the sinless life He lived allowed the God Man to be the perfect sacrifice that could permanently atone for our sins. But His resurrection is what solidified it all. Paul says that if Christ had not been raised, then our preaching, faith, and hope would all be “in vain” and “we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). But the fact that He was raised from the dead means our preaching, faith, and hope is both valid and necessary. In a sense, His death was temporary so that life (in Him) could be eternal. Christ rising from the dead means the promise God made will come to pass, namely, “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Christ is the only way to eternal life, peace, and unity, because He is the only one who defeated death itself. He is the only way out of a life of vanity, as Ecclesiastes described, because everything on this earth will fade away except for our souls. These souls will go onto spend eternity either with Christ or apart from Christ. But if you want to have that peace and unity that our hearts so deeply long for, then the only way to have them forever is to be born again, washed by the blood of Christ, and adopted into the kingdom of heaven.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in serving a temporary kingdom that can only offer me temporary things. I want to serve a kingdom of peace and unity that will last forever. And by His grace, He has revealed to those with ears to hear that eternal goodness of any kind can only be found in Him.

So, the unofficial Christmas truce of 1914 may remind us that Christmas can be a time of peace and unity among men. But, as believers, let’s let Christmas remind us that Christ is the source of peace and unity that transcends all people, all places, and all of time.

Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.