Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, 1st and 2nd Timothy, and Philemon, all start out this way. “Grace and peace to you …” I used to think that was just a nice sentiment. Not sure why he chose “grace and peace,” but it seemed to be just a generic greeting. Now I see it in entirely different light.
In today’s political/social/economic climate, nothing could be more foreign than grace and peace. Indeed, anger, suspicion and mistrust are everywhere you turn. So few even think about building up when there is so much tearing down going on. There’s almost a nihilistic movement to destroy everything and start over.
Grace and peace are almost nowhere to be found except in your Bible. It’s almost as if Paul knew we would need this in 2021. Or perhaps the political/social/economic climate in the first century was closer to what it is today than we have previously realized. Perhaps grace and peace were as absent then as they are now.
We live in a time when grace and peace, wished upon believers everywhere, is exactly what the world needs. Grace is undeserved favor. It is beauty bestowed on the unlovely. It is unearned and unqualified. It’s handed out to all without discrimination. It defies logic and rules. There is no superiority with grace. No hierarchy. No privilege. None of the things that divide and separate. Grace removes all sides and puts us all in the same place of needing God’s love and forgiveness because we are all poor in spirit and wretched in our sin. Welcome to the church of forgiven sinners.
And then there is peace. Peace is ever so important because there is so much division. And to the extent that Christians are caught up in the same divisions that are fracturing our society is the extent to which we have lost our distinctiveness in the world. This is why becoming embroiled in the country’s politics has been such a detriment to the gospel.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). Would that we were known for making peace when everyone around us is so close to war. Would that we were called “children of God” instead of some of the other things Christians are called currently. With so much tending towards confrontation, may we be found busy doing the things that will bring us together rather than tear us apart. Seriously, think twice before sending around that divisive email that may only make things worse. We will not further the kingdom of God by furthering one side over the other. The kingdom of God knows no sides. We serve the Lord of Hosts who answers to no leader, earthly power or party.
The next several days in this country are going to be critical. Make a difference. Be an active peacemaker. And whatever you do, be gracious.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ