“For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups” (Ephesians 2:14-15, NLT).
I used to fight with my sister, my kids got into it occasionally and most people I’ve talked to have said their kids had trouble getting along, at least sometimes. Squabbling, bickering, fighting, feuding—it’s an unfortunate and at times, terrible part of life. Parents try to settle the arguments, but true peace between siblings often has to wait until they have matured and finally realize they love each other. At least we hope it comes to that.
As a father, God hurts when he sees his children fighting. But instead of wringing his hands and whining why can’t we all get along, he did something about it. He sent his son to end the system of laws and break down the walls that separate us. We’ve always been the family of humankind, but in Christ, God has created a new family. With his peace in us, we can grow to a place where we truly love each other as brothers and sisters and stop the fighting. The peace Jesus brought is not some ethereal ideal. It’s real, alive and working in the hearts of those who trust their Father to always know best. We can get along, with the grace and peace of Jesus.
“May grace (God’s unmerited favor) and spiritual peace [which means peace with God and harmony, unity, and undisturbedness] be yours from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:2, AMP).
What the world needs now is—grace and peace. I changed the words to the familiar song and yes, the world does need love, but in his letters, Paul more often prayed for grace and peace. He didn’t pray for the uneasy truces we have in some parts of the world, or the temporary order imposed by a benevolent leader, which could end with the next election.
God’s grace and peace are different from anything we know in our human experience because they come from his heart, from who he is. The Amplified Bible expands on what Paul meant, giving more life to our inadequate words. His grace is unmerited, undeserved and wholly independent of anything we can do. It’s favor which comes from the character of a being far above our way of thinking and reasoning, and our ideas of what’s just and fair. The peace emanating from God’s heart reflects the perfect harmony and unity of the Father, Son and Spirit. His three-in-one nature knows no discord. In Christ, he has given us his grace and shares his peace. Jesus, who he is and what he gives us, is what we really need.
“‘I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid’” (John 14:27, NLT).
Religion has been called a crutch for weak minded people. Those who see it this way think they don’t need any help to get through life because they are strong and capable. They wouldn’t be caught dead trusting in some fantasy about an all-powerful being who created the world but can’t prevent tragedies. What they don’t understand about Christianity is Jesus hasn’t given us a crutch—he’s given us the gift of peace of mind and heart.
This translation (New Living) says the world can’t give this gift; others say God doesn’t give the way the world gives. Both are correct—nothing in this world can give us peace of mind and heart, which is not a crutch, but part of the mind of God. His way of giving is different too. It’s not conditional, limited or done grudgingly. When he gives, he goes all out and he doesn’t take anything back. His peace is the perfect gift and just what the world needs.
“For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13, NLT).
We love a good story—just look at how much money movies still take in at the box office, and now we can download as well as rent them. It seems we can’t get enough of knights jousting, going on quests and rescuing fair maidens, as movies and TV series continue the theme. Who doesn’t love a thrilling sword fight, with good triumphing over evil?
All good stories have their source in the pages of the Bible. We (humanity) are the fair maiden, trapped in the darkness of sin and death. God is the just king who sent his best knight to rescue us and bring us back to his kingdom of light, where goodness reigns and there is peace and plenty for all. It’s the true Camelot, but rather than just watching it, we get to live it—forever!
“May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior give you grace and peace” (Titus 1:4b, NLT).
This short prayer is common to Paul’s letters. If you’re like me, you probably just glance at it before going on to the meatier verses. Or if it’s at the end, it seems like a nice way to end a letter, kind of like “all the best, etc., etc.” But maybe this prayer is worth lingering over and savoring. After all, Paul thought it was important enough to ask God for grace and peace for everyone who read his letters.
God’s grace and peace are infinite but we are in short supply. We desperately need both. Grace: we are living in a state of God’s forgiveness through Jesus. Receiving grace every day reminds us to be thankful and joyful and to extend it to others. Peace: Jesus’ gift, incomprehensible as it seems (Philippians 4:7), gives us a sense of God’s wholeness and goodness (The Message), which we can cling to. Receiving his peace helps us rest in his love and be at peace with our neighbors. Rather than skipping over this familiar passage, we might want to make it our daily prayer, for ourselves and others.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT).
How do you stop worrying, especially if you’re a worrywart? According to Paul, it’s as simple as praying about everything and thanking God for everything too. Gratitude is the opposite of feeling entitled to rights or benefits a person may or may not have worked for.
It can be difficult to always be thankful, but it can be learned as a spiritual discipline. You might have to start small, by thanking God for the little things, like a flower or someone’s laugh. As you do, your gratitude muscle will grow and get stronger. Sharing problems with God and being thankful, not just sometimes, but all the time, brings God’s peace.