Grace & Peace
As I'm finishing up the final sermon that wraps up a 5 1/2 month journey through 2 Thessalonians, I am caught up and fascinated once again by the writing style of Paul (the main letter writer of the New Testament). I've been going through the openings and closings of all the letters attributed to his authorship, and I've noticed something that is moving me deep in my spirit. Every letter begins with "grace and peace to you." Every letter ends with "Peace to you" or "Grace to you." With Paul, everything begins with Grace and Peace... and Grace and Peace have the final word!
The word for peace in Hebrew is Shalom, and was (and still is) a regular greeting. Shalom is much more than greeting, though. Shalom is more than the absence of conflict or war. Shalom is a way living and being, and means "every kind of good!" At the beginning and closing of every letter of Paul is "may every kind of good be yours."
In the original Greek that the New Testament letters were written in, the word that translates as Grace means "joy" and "acceptance." Paul began everything with joy and acceptance, and he gave joy and acceptance the final word. So, why are Christians today known for such a lack of joy? Why are Christians labeled as the most judgmental and unaccepting people?
Everything begins with Grace and Peace. Grace and Peace have the final word.
What if we lived that way? Not just in the things we write, but in our words and actions. What if everything we did began with Grace and Peace? What if, regardless of the circumstances, we let Grace and Peace have the final word?