The Parasite of Peace

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased,” Luke 2:14.

There’s a battle between peace and war. It seems unnecessary to say so. But this season is when peace is to prevail and war is to fade away–at least for a time.

That worked once, at least, but only briefly. In 1914, French, English, and German soldiers called a Christmas truce and even sang in unison. It was a “Silent Night” with harmony in multiple languages.

I remember my mother telling me the story.  For a night, Christmas night, there was peace. “And then the next day, they were out there killing each other again,” she said.

She was born after that war had ended. It was a war intending to end them all. But it only set up the next one. The next one killed even more. Many more.

We look at war and shake our heads. But so the world has been since Cain killed Abel. There will always be those who seek to upend peace to secure their own power, to have their own way.

Into such a world came a baby Christians call the Prince of Peace.

It’s hard for us to reconcile this Prince of Peace with something He would later say: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword,” Matthew 10:34.

Those at war with Him will be at war with us. But He is at once the Lion of Judah and the Lamb of God–a sword-wielding Lion and a sacrificial Lamb who gives peace and life.

We mark His birth when angels sang, when shepherds and visiting kings worshiped. But a fearful king, trying to stomp out prospective competition, killed young innocents.

Fear waged war with a baby king. So it was in the season we celebrate now.

Mistletoe is a symbol of this season. Its association with peace comes from its pre-Christian roots. Scandinavian soldiers who found themselves battling under its branches dropped their arms and made peace–at least temporarily.

Mistletoe was a haven of safety. A sacred place of peace.

But it is a parasitic plant. Mistletoe bores through the bark of a host tree and grows up and down through branches. Once it has established its root system in a host, it’s almost impossible to kill. Any tree mistletoe claims will die prematurely, but slowly. Yet the dead tree will spring forth with life.

A mistletoe-infested forest may produce three times more cavity-nesting birds than a forest lacking mistletoe.”

Like a king who brings both a sword and peace, mistletoe is its own paradox. It’s poisonous but also medicinal. It can bring sickness or wellness–death or life–depending on what we do with it.

War is the norm for humanity. It’s the tree that grows in every forest throughout the world. Peace is the enduring element that seeks to infest it, to overcome it. Our yearning for peace never ends.

The Lion of Judah is the Lamb who comes with peace. This Lion-Lamb will overcome death and war. And there will be peace within and among those who please Him.

We will have death or life–depending on what we do with Him.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Revised from 12/19/16

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32 Replies to “The Parasite of Peace”

  1. Beautifully said. You are right: “Our yearning for peace never ends.” We have life in Jesus, all praise!

  2. Wow! What a wonderful message. You have captured His significance in our lives with a few powerful words and illustrations. I am not surprised! Each one of us has the choice of peace or war, not with nations, but ourselves and God. We can choose Jesus as Lord and Savior thus having the peace of blessed assurance of tomorrow or choose any other path guaranteeing we will end up at war with Him eventually resulting in our destruction. It is our choice. Choose wisely!

    1. I didn’t either before I found this information. It’s funny how we pick up traditions and don’t realize how they came to be–and what they can represent. Thanks for commenting and God bless!

  3. The story of the soldiers agreeing to be peaceful for a short time before returning to war is beautifully filmed in the Hallmark movie called, Silent Night. I’ve watched it twice and I highly recommend it.

    Your illustration about the mistletoe bringing death or healing depending on how it is used is so good. What will we do with Jesus? Is He our Saviour or will we only know Him as our judge? The choice is ours. Thank you for sharing.

  4. How true! Love this post. I love your closing, “We will have death or life–depending on what we do with Him.” The comparison to the mistletoe was enlightening, “…mistletoe is its own paradox. It’s poisonous but also medicinal. It can bring sickness or wellness–death or life–depending on what we do with it.” Thank you for your fresh insight, Nancy! 🙂

  5. Hi Nancy. “We look at war and shake our heads.” This is so true but it is somehow refreshing to read this post explaining that war exists, and even the birth of a Savior invites a warring enemy. We truly need our Prince of Peace who will grant us peace unspeakable sometime soon, in His time.

  6. I did not know this information about the mistletoe, very interesting. It was a great way to explain the peace of Christ verses the war the world brings. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Nancy

  7. Wow – I never knew that about Mistletoe

    A parasite, that produces death and yet provides medicine and a haven for other life

    A very powerful comparison to the sword and peace by our King, the Lion and the Lamb

    Thank you

  8. I did not know these stories, Nancy—that soldiers stopped the killing for a night of peace on Christmas—WOW. Sadly, I doubt that would happen today, 100 years later. But nonetheless, you are so right in stating that Jesus does this to our souls: the sword intends to slice away sin and make us better because of it (that is if we allow it). It all boils down to our choices – free will. So, this season is great reminder that the greatest gift God gave to humanity is freedom. May we wield it well.

    1. So true, Lisa! Those who say they don’t believe in God wonder about evil. How can a just God let it all happen? Because it would be unjust if we didn’t have freedom. And we will give an account for what we did with that freedom. Thanks for reading and commenting! God bless!

  9. OK – I’m going to be showing my nerdiness here, but I learned about that soldiers singing together thing from Dr Who. It was moving to see, but I thought no way could it be true. .. then I looked it up.

    Very cool info about mistletoe. I didn’t know about that at all! I wonder how it came to be the thing you kiss under? Such an interesting parallel comparing it to the paradox of the bringer of peace and a sword.

    1. Thanks, Christina. I believe the kissing comes from the peace aspect of mistletoe–couples making up under the mistletoe. We learn much from various shows and movies. It’s up to us to discern whether we are learning truth–as you did. God bless!

  10. Thank you, Nancy. What an interesting post. I never new the history behind mistletoe or that it is parasitic.

    But I am thankful that our Prince of Peace, Jesus, knows when to wage war with the enemy and forces of evil. And that one day, peace will reign forever!

  11. Interesting facts about the mistletoe! I didn’t know about the Scandinavian peacemaking when armies met under its growth. Neither did I know about the enrichment of the forest when the mistletoe infested the trees. I love this: “War is the norm for humanity. It’s the tree that grows in every forest throughout the world. Peace is the enduring element that seeks to infest it, to overcome it.” Peace like mistletoe. May it infest our world and bring an end to war. Come, Lord Jesus, come!

  12. Great post. Interesting insight about mistletoe.

    Great line: Those at war with Him will be at war with us.

    Minor edits– need a blank line after “Prince of Peace” and “celebrate now”

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