Perhaps you remember the newspaper photograph in December 1991 that showed eight members of a police SWAT team looking for a sniper in a small Missouri town. Stretched across the road over their heads was a Christmas banner that read “Peace On Earth.” The headline above the photo said: Four Killed, One Wounded in Attacks.

Events that hardly faze us the rest of the year seem tragic and out of place as we approach Christmas. The message of the angels is mocked by angry shouts and endless violence.

Every Christmas I remind myself that the world into which Jesus was born was not draped with pine boughs and soft glowing lights. Families were gathering to sign the tax rolls of a tyrannical Roman government, not to sing carols and exchange gifts.

John 3:16 states, “God so loved the world”—the givers and takers, movers and shakers, snipers and SWAT teams—”that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever”—the haves and have-nots, frightened children and anxious parents—”believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

The offer still stands. People everywhere can have peace on earth if they’ll look for it in Jesus.