Every letter of Paul begins with the same blessing. "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 1:7, 1 Cor. 1:2, 2 Cor 1:2, Gal. 1:3, Eph. 1:2, Phil 1:2, Col 1:2, 1 Th 1:1, 2 Th 1:2, 1 Tim 1:2, 2 Tim. 1:2, Titus 1:4, Phile. 1:3).
The traditional greeting in the ancient Roman empire was "Greetings!" (charein). Paul adapted that greeting and instead said "Grace (charis) to you" and then brought in the Jewish greeting of "peace" (Hebrew, shalom).
Grace and peace. The two must go together.
Grace is God's activity toward us. God's good, unmerited, merciful, bountiful love. We do not deserve anything but God has given us everything in Jesus Christ. Everything we have is a gift. Stop and consider that, from an eternal perspective, nothing that you have is "earned." Every breath and every heart beat is a gift.
Peace is our experience within God's grace. It is contentment, blessing, joy, satisfaction under the Shepherd's care. It is shalom, wholeness, well-being, rest. It is coming to the place of surrender. It is quieting one's soul in the Father's arms.
These two things were not just a slogan to Paul but his whole theology…and his prayer and desire for himself and for those he ministered to.
May you come to know more and more of God's grace.
May you experience more and more of God's peace.
And may you realize more and more that both are only found through Jesus Christ.
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