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As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. 14 If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed.15 Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.
17 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the sign of genuineness in every letter of mine; it is the way I write. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
– 2 Thessalonians 3:13-17 [ESV]
I may not begin my sermons with the traditional “Grace and peace…” but I am all in on grace and peace. Grace because it is such a rich and meaningful thing. Peace because the gift of Jesus’ peace is such a powerful and rich blessing. It flows from God’s grace.
I’ve described the thought of life without God’s grace as peering over the rim of the Grand Canyon, and imagining the fall to the bottom. The chasm is too deep. The fall too far. The terror too daunting. If there is no grace, I will surely die. A terrifying fall. A horrific death.
It’s not often about gross sin. I’m not imagining having to deal with having committed murder. I’ve not robbed a bank. It’s not even the conviction that I have sinned in thought word and deed. The evil I’ve done and the good that I’ve not done. More often it is the awareness of the reality of my brokenness and utter hopeless state apart from God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
But God’s grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness has come to me and to all people. Sadly some do not wish it. Some do not desire it. Some do not think they need it. But we all do need it. We must realize how precious it is. And it is ours for Jesus’ sake.
Knowing that God’s grace comes to us apart from anything we have done, failed to do, or even our awareness of our need for it is a source of great peace. For grace is the one thing that is God’s constant and unwavering gift. And that brings peace.
The word for peace, shalom, or ειρήνη (eirene), is a rich word, with deep meaning. Wholeness, rest, health, wellbeing, and tranquility are facets of the meaning. Knowing that God’s grace is constant, his kindness is unwavering, and his love is steadfast brings great peace. And while I may not use that wording to begin my sermons, it is my sincere hope that once I’m finished speaking, people will take with them a deep sense of both grace and peace. These are God’s gifts. Paul urged them on the people of Thessalonica. And I delight in them for myself, and urge them on you, dear reader.