2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace and peace are two of the greatest blessings that Christians can wish upon each other. Grace: that unmerited gift from God that covers the soul and changes the condition of the recipient. Peace: a conscious resting contentment in the sovereign hand of an almighty God. Throughout this letter, these two pastors are going to explain how peace is achieved and what the implications of grace are in the life of a believer.
Ponder for a moment the capacity of a believer to offer such a blessing with brothers and sisters in Christ. Consider the power of such a statement. This opening line offers us a change of condition from God. It speaks to the hearer the truth: that they need not earn their position as a child of God or a subject of Christ. When believers offer each other grace, they lay aside their prestige and prowess in favor of a recognized equality. There is no room for arrogance in this blessing. To offer the grace from God is to admit that every man is on equal footing. There is no hierarchy or positional authority in this blessing. Grace from God. Grace to be called a child. Grace to call Jesus, “Lord.” Grace is what believers greet each other in.
Believers live in a state of grace extended. First it is received in the heart of a Christian, then it overflows from that believer into the world around him/her. This is what Jesus means when He states in John 4:14, “the water I give will become a spring of living water welling up to eternal life.” And again in John 7:38, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” The believer becomes a source of life giving water to a dry and dead world. This truth is evident in authentic Christianity, but is strangely absent in much of modern western Christianity. This could be because too many Christians are simply immature and need to have true Christianity taught and modeled for them. Or it could be that what most people call Christian is a poor excuse for the real thing. Christians refresh the world around them. Christians make things more beautiful. Grace extended means there is an equal footing between all men. Grace is undeserved. So recognition of its receipt puts all recipients in a position of humility. More than simply viewing others as equal, grace extended seeks to forgive and move past wrong committed. Christians must give grace to those in the world around them, especially to those who do not deserve it. Learn to live grace extended.
The second blessing Paul and Timothy cast upon their readers is peace. Peace is a rare condition in our modern world. The business of our culture and the desperately empty condition of our hearts combine to create a thunderous clamor of the soul. Peace escapes our modern understanding of life. Please, don’t misunderstand, we know what it means to be peaceful. We know what it means to have silence and rest. But our world does not understand peace. This world wars against peace at every turn. It labors to defy harmony and revels in its own contentious idolatry. Christians, on the other hand, offer peace to this world. Harmony with the creator and a cessation of hostilities towards each other. We can offer this peace because we are not of this world. (John 17:16) Our God offers rescue. Peace is attainable. The clamor can be silenced. The war can be over. You can have peace.
This peace is attained by putting your trust in Jesus. You must recognize that you cannot earn the favor of God. God is holy, righteous, and perfect. He is just and punishes those who do wrong… unfortunately for us: that means everybody… because everyone does wrong at some point. God is holy, and justice will be served. But, He offers you grace. God came down to rescue. Jesus took upon Himself all the wrong that you will ever do and received God’s wrath on your behalf. Now, trust in His goodness to give you right standing before God. Follow Him. He will lead you in peace. Turn and seek the Lord now… this letter will mean a great deal more to you if you do.