“ …and on earth PEACE …”
by Robert Docter –
Words from an angel—even a great choir of “heavenly hosts”—cannot bring peace to our world. Only we can achieve that end, for there is a prior condition to the gift of peace. Peace demands good will—benevolence—a desire to do good for others. To achieve peace, we must be ready to do God’s will—good will.
These days, sometimes it’s hard to find.
A materialistic society suffers significantly from self-centeredness. It is the root of all sin. It is the absence of love. It demands attention. It precipitates all kinds of urges. It drives one into egotistical selfishness that climaxes with making one’s self into god. It is the ultimate in God-rejection. Often, one achieves such an end through gradualism. Rarely do we see it elevated into consciousness. It hovers in the back alleys of our hearts, discovered only in the pain of isolation, loneliness and self-contempt.
The self-centered person bears little good will. The energy of altruism is non-existent. The energy consumed by the will of such a person is rarely directed toward others except for the purpose of personal gain.
“What’s in it for me?” they ask. “What will I get out of this?” they wonder. “Oh, I’ll do good for that person easily enough, but is anyone watching?” they inquire. “Who will get the credit?” they demand.
We talk of “good will,” but we never hear its opposite described as “bad will.” It always seems to have a label more aptly contained in some manual of character disorders. Shallowness describes the belief system of the self-centered person. Good will might exist at a verbal level, but it has not penetrated the heart.
Immediacy consumes such a person. And the goal of any action is centered in self-gain, self-protection, self-profit, self-honor. Self-awareness tumbles into the morass of superficiality, for where no solid belief system lives, identity lies unborn. Life’s meaning remains undiscovered, undefined.
Good will has within it elements of positive character—traits that reveal themselves within an individual’s behavior—choices made on the basis of moral and ethical principles. They describe someone who is “complete”—who moves through life with integrity. Such a journey sometimes travels a road of travail. Life’s burdens are spread equally throughout humanity, but for the person of good will, the spiritual system becomes a support system. The person discovers anew a spiritual center able to confront a self-center.
And so, good will becomes the portal to personal peace. Good will demands genuineness, sincerity, consistency. It’s not something to be turned on and off. It’s not something one can perform as if on a stage. It must be real. It grows from the inside out, and that inside is a soul filled with love for others—filled with the presence of the babe of Bethlehem.
Sometimes, I suspect that some of us try to put spirit in a box. We even try to dress it up with an intention of giving it away. But the box becomes so beautiful we hold it close in fear of losing it. Such desire becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. In holding it, we lose it.
We have not truly understood the paradoxical messages of Christ. If we want something, we must give it away. As a planter, filled with hope and positive expectation, spreads seeds in empty fields, if we broadcast the good will of his spirit within us far and wide we will see an inevitable harvest of his spirit in others. We are his water carriers as we show his love, give his gifts, present his power, share his sacrifice, and bear each other’s burdens.
His peace will fill us as his good will reveals itself in us.