When I was born, the world was a different place. In America, many families were still living the “Father Knows Best,” “Leave It To Beaver,” kind of life, where dad went to work and mom stayed home. For me, the days were pretty simple. Get up, go to school, come home, do your chores and your homework, eat dinner, watch “Andy Griffith,” and go to bed, only to do it all over the next day. The civil rights movement was just ending; I remember the year they de-segregated my elementary school. I didn’t understand why some adults seemed upset. I was blissfully ignorant of what had been happening in the years before I was born. (Oh, to be a child again!)
One thing that was very common, at least in my world, was that most people went to church on Sundays. There was still a prevailing “Judeo-Christian” ethic, a sense that some things were right according to God, and sin was to be avoided by those who believed the Bible, and at least (somewhat) hidden by those who didn’t. The rebellious years of the ’60s and ’70s were just getting started. I was only one the first time the world watched as Linus recited the familiar words of Luke 2 on the televised special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Watching that show became a yearly tradition in many homes and would soon make this passage the second most familiar to us all, just after John 3:16.
After the angel announced the birth of the Savior to the shepherds, the sky was filled with a “multitude of the heavenly host.” Innumerable angels lit up the sky and the sound of their perfect voices, a heavenly choir, echoed across the valley. Surely there were others nearby who heard the sound and wondered at the brightness that chased away the blackness of the night. As quickly as they came, they disappeared, and the shepherds were left to wonder at the news:
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Our world is a different place today, but the news the angels brought – that sweet scripture Linus quoted as he explained “what Christmas is all about,” is the same. Jesus came to bring glory to God, and peace and good will to men.
That word translated “good will” is eudokia, and means kindly intent, benevolence. It speaks of delight, pleasure, and satisfaction. Jesus came to make peace between us and God by removing the barrier of sin, so that God’s good pleasure could be poured out on us once again, just as it was in the Garden of Eden.
I don’t know what kind of world you grew up in. I’m fully aware of the blessings of my protected, God-fearing, truth-hearing childhood, and that my experience is less-than-common today for most people. To you, God may be just a by-word, an outdated ideology to which you can’t relate. Even worse, you may have a wrong view of God because of the actions and words of people who say they speak for Him. If that’s true, I encourage you to listen to the original story the angels told us.
Jesus came to bring us peace. He came to bring the good will of God toward men. Don’t let the words of Luke 2 be just a distant childhood memory. They aren’t meant just to give you a warm and fuzzy feeling; they’re not a fairy tale. If you truly believe them and respond in faith, they are words that will change you for eternity.