This will be my last column this year, so I decided I would share a few different thoughts as we draw closer to the end of the year.

There is a story that has been told over the years regarding a very special Christmas truce during WWI. The year was 1914 and WWI had been raging for several months. The Germans and mostly British troops faced each other from the muddy trenches of the western front. It was Christmas Eve, and as the British soldiers sat in their trench, cold and hungry, from across “no man’s land,” they heard what sounded like singing. Now the story varies at this point some saying they heard several Christmas carols being sung by the Germans, while others say it was the singing of “Stille Nacht”/ “Silent Night” by one German soldier that started the singing. Soon the Germans would sing a carol and then the British would sing. This culminated the next morning with soldiers on both sides coming out of their trenches showing friendship to each other. The truce didn’t last long, however. By New Year’s Day the war was back in full force.

I share this because I believe that if it is possible for devout enemies to find a point of compromise and peace, we who share our lives as neighbors and friends can find that point of compromise and peace as well.

That’s not to say that people won’t still have their own personal beliefs, nor does it mean that we will find that utopia promised by socialist ideology. But it does mean that people can learn to be respectful of others and treat each other with peace and understanding.

We can all learn to express ourselves without it causing neighbors to stop talking to each other or people disliking others because they have a different idea about the way the country should be run.

The major keys of Christmas are faith, hope and love. The apostle Paul wrote, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) People come to America from all around the world because they have a hope for a better life than where they were. They believe that people here can achieve whatever their dreams might be. The Constitution guarantees certain liberties that no other country in the world guarantees. Among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I am convinced that most people in this country — Republican, Democrat and independent — still believe in those same liberties. We might not agree on the details, but that’s no reason to start a civil war!

Bear with me for a moment as I go from preaching to meddling. We live in a world filled with evil. Crime runs rampant in our cities because of evil. Murder and mayhem exist because of evil. Sexual abuse and assault exist because of evil. Evil exists everywhere because evil is in our hearts.

We will never eradicate evil. It is here to stay. We can, however, minimize it when we clean our own hearts. I have a passion for our country and our way of life, but I must be careful not to let that passion cause me to say or do what I know to be wrong.

I believe strongly in the lordship of Jesus Christ. I believe that he is the son of God and savior of the world. I also believe we can only cleanse our hearts by accepting him as Lord and entering into a personal relationship with him. As long as men seek solutions to evil through other men, or government, they will only find disappointment and failure. The apostle John wrote, “For God so loved the world, he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). As I close this column, I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. May your hopes and dreams be fulfilled, and may you find the peace that comes through knowing the love of Jesus Christ.

Bill Shea is a retired major in the U. S. Army. He also worked at K-State as an instructor in computer science and still supply preaches for MCC. He lives in Manhattan.

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